The United States and Japan successfully conducted a missile-defense system test on Friday in Hawaii, the US Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.
The statement said that the USS John Paul Jones detected and intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer used its onboard Aegis Missile Defense System and a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor to shoot down the missile. This marked the first time the Standard Missile-3 intercepted a ballistic missile target.
“Today’s test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile and will ultimately improve our ability to defend against increasing ballistic missile threats around the world,” the director of the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Adm. Jim Syring said in a statement.
Missile interceptors are a part of U.S. defense plans in case there is an attack on the United States or its allies by North Korea. Even though North Korea faces U.N. sanctions, they continue to develop their ballistic missile program.
The test was conducted while Defense Secretary James Mattis was on an overseas trip to Japan and South Korea. Ballistic missile defense was a high priority during their talks.
The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System is onboard dozens of Navy ships, several of which are based in Japan. Japan and South Korea also operate Aegis-equipped destroyers.