U.S. missile defense test reportedly fails off Kauai
In a statement the U-S Missile Defense agency confirmed a test happened, but did not mention any outcome.
A defense missile test conducted Wednesday morning off Kauai was reportedly unsuccessful. Island News confirmed the test took place off Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, and both CNN and the Associated Press report the interceptor, known as Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, missed its target.
In a statement the U.S. Missile Defense agency confirmed a test happened, but did not mention any outcome.
"The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors manning the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC) conducted a live-fire missile flight test using a Standard-Missile (SM)-3 Block IIA missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, Wednesday morning."
-Mark Wright, Interim Director of Public Affairs, Missile Defense Agency
Our partners at CNN first reported the failure and said Pentagon officials refused to comment, partly because of sensitivities surrounding North Korea.
A U.S. official that spoke on condition of anonymity, said test data is being looked at to find out why that interceptor missed its mark. Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor is still in development as a joint project with Japan. It's designed to be deployed from either land or ship with two new features: larger rocket motors and larger kinetic warheads -- to increase defense capabilities.
Founder of the non-profit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, Riki Ellison says missile defense test failures come with the territory when it comes to testing new technology.
"It's part of the evolution if you are trying a newer bigger, stronger missile that's got more range, more capability .. more ability to defend many more miles.. areas.. you have to go and test it and get it exactly where you want it. Its-- so this is part of the process," Ellison said. "We've already intercepted with this same exact missile off of a ship.
Ellison adds that the U.S. successfully conducted a similar test in February of last year, off the USS John Paul Jones, when it intercepted a ballistic missile target using the same type SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. Although months after that test, in June 2017 another similar test failed.
But according to Ellison, ground-based interceptor (GBI) missiles already based in Alaska are the first line of defense for Hawaii, and the missile interceptor tested Wednesday morning represents an underlay or second line of defense.
"Hawaii is still safe because you are reliant on those 44 GBIs that are in Alaska that have been proven and were tested," Ellison added. "The 40 up in Alaska are the ones that are going to be used to shoot and intercept anything."
The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor serves a critical piece for the European missile defense system, and according to Raytheon's website is on track for 2018 deployment at sea and on land in Poland.