WASHINGTON, Sept 10 The U.S. Missile Defense
Agency announced on Tuesday that it had conducted the first
operational test of Lockheed Martin Corp's THAAD
missile defense system, intercepting two medium-range ballistic
missiles that were fired nearly simultaneously.
The test was conducted near the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll
test site and surrounding areas in the western Pacific,
according to a statement released by the Pentagon.
Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, said
Lockheed's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system
had been successfully tested 10 times, but this was the first
operational test of that system and its ability to work together
with the Aegis system on the USS Decatur, a guided-missile
destroyer in the region.
The Defense Department said the flight test was planned more
than a year ago and was not connected to events in the Middle
East, where the United States is weighing a limited strike on
Syria over its use of chemical weapons.
Earlier this year, after North Korea threatened to launch a
nuclear attack on the United States, the Pentagon moved two
Aegis guided-missile destroyers to the western Pacific and a
THAAD system to Guam.
Lehner declined comment when asked if there were plans to
move the THAAD system to the Middle East.
In Tuesday's test, two medium-range ballistic missile
targets were launched on operationally realistic trajectories
towards a defended area near Kwajalein.
Those missiles were tracked using satellites and ground- and
sea-based radars, which relayed that information to the
destroyer, which used a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) built by
Raytheon Co to destroy one target, and to the THAAD
system, which destroyed the second target missile.
The THAAD system also launched a second interceptor at the
target destroyed by the ship-based Aegis system, in case that
system missed its target, according to the Pentagon statement.
"The event ... demonstrated integrated, layered, regional
missile defense capabilities to defeat a raid of two
threat-representative medium-range ballistic missiles in a
combined live-fire operational test," the Pentagon said in its
It said U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army personnel from
multiple combatant commands operated the systems, giving them "a
unique opportunity to refine operational doctrine and tactics
while increasing confidence in the execution of integrated air
and missile defense plans."