HONOLULU — The U.S. military shot down a medium-range ballistic missile during a test off Hawaii, officials said.
The Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai Island launched the target missile late Tuesday. Sailors aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones tracked it with radar and fired an interceptor missile to shoot it down.
The test comes amid North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and rising tensions between the U.S and the North. Earlier Tuesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, a close U.S. ally, that landed in the Pacific Ocean. President Donald Trump said “all options are on the table” in response to the test.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for more weapons launches targeting the Pacific Ocean to advance his country’s ability to contain the U.S. territory of Guam, which is home to key U.S. military bases.
The Hawaii test gives Navy ships enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their last stage of flight, said Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, the director of the Missile Defense Agency.
“We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves,” he said in a statement.
The destroyer fired a Standard Missile-6 or SM-6 interceptor. It’s the second time that particular type of missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target, the agency said.
In June, the John Paul Jones failed to shoot down its target missile in a similar test off Hawaii. A Standard Missile-3 Block IIA jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan failed to intercept its target. An earlier test of the same interceptor in February succeeded.