Last Friday night, a missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai was successfully intercepted in space by a new anti-ballistic missile, according to the US Missile Defense Agency. This was the most ambitious test yet of a weapon jointly developed by the United States and Japan…we have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.
About 10:30 Friday night, the Standard Missile 3 Block II A flashed out of a vertical launch cell aboard U.S.S. John Paul Jones. Mitch Stevison of Raytheon told USNI News, that it appeared to be “a flawless fly out and engagement.”
Like earlier variants in this missile family, the Block IIA uses a kinetic warhead, not explosives, and it’s designed to destroy medium and intermediate range missiles at the top of their trajectory in space. The Block IIA is bigger, faster and has more advanced sensors to home in on its target.
According to the Missile Defense Agency, the US has spent about $2.2 billion on the system so far, Japan about 1 billion. Some parts are built by Mitsubishi, some by Raytheon and it’s scheduled for delivery to the US, Japanese and, according to some reports, the South Korean Navies next year.
The test came while Secretary Of Defense James Mattis was on a visit to Japan and South Korea last week, with ballistic missile defense and North Korea near the top of his agenda.
Last month, his Japanese Counterpart, Tomomi Inada toured US bases on Guam, including another antimissile system THAAD – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. Japan is considering THAAD as a third layer of ballistic missile defense, along with Standard Missiles aboard its guided missile destroyers and the short range Patriot Pac 3.