The US military has conducted a successful test of a missile intercept system, officials said today, as tensions soar following North Korea’s test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially reach Alaska.
The test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system saw a ballistic missile target air-launched from an Air Force C-17 over the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii.
“A THAAD weapon system located at (Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska) in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target,” the US Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.
THAAD is designed to intercept and destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.
Though such exercises are planned months in advance, it comes after North Korea’s first-ever test-firing last week of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching parts of the United States including Alaska.
THAAD is not designed to stop an ICBM — that job is left primarily to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor system.
The US military this year began deploying THAAD to South Korea, a move that infuriated China, which has argued the deployment would further destabilize the situation on the Korean peninsula.
This was the 14th successful intercept in 14 attempts for the THAAD weapon system, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said.