The US missile defense agency on Monday shot down a successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in space in an extremely complex test of US military capabilities to counter enemy missiles.
Two interceptor missiles, launched from an air base in California, shot down the 4,000-mile-long ballistic missile of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, believed to resemble missiles used by the North Korean or Iranian armed forces.
The first interceptor hit and destroyed the reentry vehicle. The second interceptor touched a secondary object.
The agency stated that during the test, ground-based and sea-based ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) sensors provided data to the Command, Control, Combat Management and Communication (C2BMC) system, which was then prompted the launch of two interceptor missiles.
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"This was the first GBI salvo intercept of a complex and representative ICBM target, and it was a crucial step," Air Force General Samuel A. Greaves said in a statement.
"The system worked exactly as it had been designed, and the results of this test provide evidence of the practical use of missile defense doctrine in missile defense. The ground-based mid-course defense system is of vital importance for the defense of our homeland and this test demonstrates that we have a credible and competent deterrent against a very real threat. "
Monday's test was the first of this kind of missile defense tests, conducted as part of the Iranian and North Korean governments' efforts to develop ICBM technology.
Earlier this year, Iran attempted to launch two satellites that the government said were aimed at monitoring the environment, raising objections from the United States, with satellite launch vehicles apparently using the same technology than ICBMs.
"Iran is planning to launch launch vehicles in space with virtually the same technology as ICBMs. The launch will advance its missile program. The United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany have already stated that it was a challenge to Security Council Resolution 2231. We will not stand idly by while the regime threatens international security, "state secretary Mike Pompeo said in a tweet.
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North Korea, accused of rebuilding a missile launch site, was the victim of failed negotiations with the United States.
The satellite images show that efforts to rebuild some structures at the Tongchang-ri launch site began Feb. 16 – March 2, citing 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies.
Harry Kazianis, director of Korean studies at the Center for National Interest and Fox News contributor, said: "The plant in question, the Sohae satellite launch base or sometimes called Tongchang-ri, has been very active. in recent days, suggesting the North Koreans are rebuilding their ability to potentially test space launchers and place satellites into orbit.
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"There is also evidence to suggest that Pyongyang could rebuild a test bench on the same site, probably used to measure the capabilities of northern long-range missile engines that could hit the United States with nuclear charge. "
Lucas Tomlinson from Fox News contributed to this story
Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.