US hits 4 targets in Pacific missile defense test

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HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. military intercepted four out of five targets over the Pacific Ocean in the largest and most complex test of the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, the Missile Defense Agency said.

The test at Kwajalein Atoll on Wednesday was designed to demonstrate the system’s ability to defend against a raid of five nearly simultaneous threats, agency spokeswoman Pamela Rogers said.

The targets included one medium-range ballistic missile, two short-range ballistic missiles and two low-flying cruise missiles.

Soldiers in the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command used the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to shoot down the medium-range target, officials said.

Two targets — a short-range missile and a cruise missile — were intercepted by the PAC-3 Patriot missile defense system operated by the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

Sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald destroyer engaged the other cruise missile. They also tried to knock out the other short-range missile with a SM-3 Block 1A interceptor but were unable to confirm they had shot down the target.

The Air Force had a role, as airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center operated a portable radar system specifically designed for ballistic missile defense, called the AN/TPY-2, Rogers said.

Kwajalein is a small atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands where the U.S. maintains a ballistic missile defense site. It’s halfway between Hawaii and Australia.

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