USA warship successfully destroys ICBM target in test off Hawaii

Clay Curtis
November 19, 2020

A Navy ship has for the first time destroyed an intercontinental ballistic missile using a standard missile, providing the US with a complement to shore-based defenses as it guards against threats from rogue states with developing nuclear missile technology.

Aegis BMD ships (and Aegis Ashore) receive track data via the C2BMC system, build the fire control solutions, then launch and guide the SM-3 family of missiles to destroy incoming threats.

In Tuesday's test, the latest version of an Aegis SM-3 missile built by Raytheon Missiles & Defence was sacked from a U.S. Navy destroyer situated in the Pacific, northeast of Hawaii.

The ICBM was destroyed outside Earth's atmosphere, Raytheon said in a separate statement.

Tests of the missile to destroy medium-range ballistic missiles have already been conducted, but Monday's test was the first to target an ICBM.

'The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the GMD system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat, ' he said.

At approximately 7:50 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time on Monday, a mock ICBM was launched from a ballistic missile defense test site on the Marshall Islands toward the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii.

Russian Federation has long complained about USA missile defenses, particularly land-based missile defense systems the United States has placed in Poland and Romania, and has cited them as justification for its new nuclear weapons.

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The USS John Finn (DDG-113) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in service with the U.S. Navy. If further, more challenging tests prove successful, the ship-based approach could add to the credibility and reliability of the Pentagon's existing missile defence system.

The move comes as the United States continues to face nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, while a transition of power from Republican President Donald Trump to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is expected in January.

The FTM-44 exercise was originally scheduled for May but had to be delayed over staffing concerns around the covid-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Missile Defence Agency.

Additionally, China and Russian Federation have voiced concern that the USA could use its missile defense capabilities to weaken the deterrent value of their nuclear forces.

Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency, which conducted Tuesday's test, called the result "an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone" for the program.

However, Tom Karako, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the interceptor isn't targeted at a peer competitor such as Russian Federation, which has a large enough arsenal to overwhelm US missile defenses.

Its target was a mock ICBM that had been launched from a USA test range at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Raytheon added in the release that the interceptor was co-developed with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The demonstration could shift how the USA and allies such as Japan conceive of homeland missile defense.

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