WASHINGTON — An experimental naval interceptor shot down a short-range ballistic missile target during a test over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, missile defense officials said.
It is the fifth kill in six tries for the interceptor, called a Standard Missile-3, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.
During the test, a target ballistic missile, similar to a Scud, was launched from the island of Kauai at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The USS Lake Erie, a cruiser equipped with the Aegis radar system and stationed 100 miles offshore, tracked the ballistic missile and then fired the interceptor to shoot it down. Two minutes later, the missiles collided.
The SM-3 interceptor will be deployed on ships later this year, Lehner said.
Also involved in the test was the Aegis destroyer USS Russell, which tested some of its missile-tracking systems.
The SM-3 doesn’t have the range of the experimental land-based national missile defenses located in Alaska and California, and it is envisioned for use in protecting allies or U.S. forces from short-range ballistic missiles launched over a body of water. Potential scenarios where it could see action include missiles fired by North Korea at Japan, or by China at Taiwan.
However, the tracking system on some naval vessels is designed to assist in hunting intercontinental ballistic missiles.