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Navy intercepts, destroys ICBM during missile test in Hawaii

Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS John Finn intercepted and destroyed an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile-representative target with a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile during a flight test demonstration Monday.

The target was launched from Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in Hawaii toward the broad ocean area northeast of the state, according to the Pentagon.

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The destroyer used engage-on-remote capabilities through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications network as part of a defense of Hawaii scenario, and then launched a SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which destroyed the target.

The test demonstrated that the SM-3 Block IIA missile is capable of intercepting an ICBM target, the Pentagon said, but program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based on data obtained during the test.

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"This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program," said MDA Director, Vice Admiral Jon Hill. "The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat."

Hill said the demonstration -- that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target -- "is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland."

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Monday's test was the sixth flight test of an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel using the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile.

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"This successful intercept is a tremendous accomplishment and confirms we have inherent capability against long range ballistic missile threats that can be deployed to all our Aegis Baseline 9 ships and Aegis Ashore sites -- at any moment," Jim Sheridan, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin, which makes the Aegis system, said in a press release.

Raytheon, which makes the SM-3 Block IIA ballistic missile defense interceptor, also released a statement Thursday touting the success of the test.

"This first-of-its-kind test shows that our nation has a viable option for a new layer of defense against long-range threats," said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles and Defense.

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