A ballistic missile target simulating a North Korean threat that was launched by an Air Force C-17 cargo plane over the Pacific, north of Hawaii, was successfully intercepted today by a defensive missile in a test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, officials said.
The THAAD system located in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
The Pentagon agency said preliminary indications are that the “threat-representative” intermediate-range ballistic missile target was successfully engaged by the THAAD weapon system.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the government and contractor team who executed this flight test today,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a release. “This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats. THAAD continues to protect our citizens, deployed forces and allies from a real and growing threat.”
A THAAD system is in Guam to guard against North Korean missiles, and is being installed in South Korea. Such a system is not seen as being ideal for Hawaii’s defense because THAAD is not designed for the extreme closing speeds of a longer-range intercontinental ballistic missile, missile experts say.
It was the 14th successful intercept in 14 attempts for the THAAD weapon system, which is a transportable, rapidly-deployable system with the capability to intercept ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight, the missile agency said.
The system uses “hit-to-kill” technology in which the kinetic energy of an impact destroys the incoming target.
“The successful demonstration of THAAD against an (intermediate-range) missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries around the globe and contributes to the broader strategic deterrence architecture,” the Missile Defense Agency said.