The United States and Japan have successfully carried out a missile interception test with a jointly developed interceptor missile, the US Missile Defense Agency said.
The test took place off Hawaii early Saturday (Eastern Time), with the Aegis-equipped destroyer USS John Paul Jones shooting down a medium-range ballistic missile target with the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor missile, the agency said in a statement.
The SM-3 Block IIA is being developed cooperatively by the United States and Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It operates as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and can be launched from Aegis-equipped ships or Aegis Ashore sites, the agency said.
"Today's test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile," MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring said in a statement. "The missile, developed jointly by a Japanese and US government and industry team, is vitally important to both our nations and will ultimately improve our ability to defend against increasing ballistic missile threats around the world."
The test came amid heightened tensions after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's Day address that the country has entered the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile apparently capable of striking the US with nuclear weapons.