Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday, 17 November 2020



U.S. Destroyer Intercepts Target Mimicking a North Korean ICBM

  • Raytheon Standard Missile-3 accomplishes a first: Pentagon
  • Missile model was co-developed with the Japanese military
A Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile test in 2015.
A Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile test in 2015. Photographer: Ralph Scott/DIVIDS

A U.S. Navy destroyer successfully intercepted a mock intercontinental ballistic missile designed to simulate one developed by North Korea, a Pentagon official said.

The Aegis-class destroyer operating near Hawaii earlier Tuesday fired a Standard Missile-3 model Block II A made by Raytheon Technologies Corp. at the target launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

“This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone” for the Aegis program, Vice Admiral John Hill, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement. The test showed the Raytheon missile “can defeat an ICBM-class target, which is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland.”

The successful intercept means the incoming Biden administration may have a new naval weapon that could intercept an ICBM if North Korea fired a missile at the continental U.S. Navy vessels with the U.S. 7th Fleet equipped with the new interceptor could be stationed near North Korea for intercepts shortly after launch. That would be in addition to 44 interceptors in silos in Alaska and California.

The missile tested has an increased range, a bigger motor, more sensitive missile-seeking technology and an advanced “kill vehicle,” or warhead. None of the missiles yet have been installed on U.S. Navy vessels.

The missile was developed by Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. of Minato-Ku, Japan. Japan is buying the missile to bolster its defenses against North Korea. The missile is also the centerpiece of U.S.-European missile defense programs and is scheduled to be installed in Poland.

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