Two days after North Korea conducted its second ICBM test and claimed it could hit most major American cities, the U.S. military Sunday conducted a test of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, which the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) described as "successful," reports said.
The weapon was fired by a U.S. Air Force plane over the Pacific Ocean and intercepted by the system located in Alaska, according to an MDA release.
"The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army soldiers of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, conducted a successful missile defense test today using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system," the MDA said in a statement Sunday.
“A medium-range target ballistic missile (MRBM) was air-launched by a U.S. Air Force C-17 over the Pacific Ocean. The THAAD weapon system located at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target.”
THAAD is a ground-based missile defense system. It has been designed to shoot down short-medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, reports said.
Lockheed Martin Corp, the prime contractor for the system, said it has the ability to intercept incoming missiles from both inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere.
This is the second time in the month the U.S. has tested the THAAD system.
On July 11, the U.S. test-fired its THAAD anti-ballistic missile system from Kodiak Island, successfully intercepting a target missile launched from an Air Force Cargo plane north of Hawaii, according to Fox News. That test had come after North Korea’s first ICBM missile launch on July 4.
“The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries around the globe and contributes to the broader strategic deterrence architecture,” the MDA had said after the test.
The U.S. has also deployed THAAD in South Korea to guard against North Korea's shorter-range missiles, a move which has angered both China and Russia. In a joint statement earlier this month they called on Washington to immediately halt deployment of THAAD in South Korea.
However, concerns were heightened in Washington and Seoul when Pyongyang tested its second ICBM Friday, which the U.S. termed “reckless and dangerous.”
The North Korean had described its missile test a “stern warning” for the U.S. and said that the country would face destruction if it tried to attack North Korea.
“By threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people. The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region,” President Donald Trump had said in a statement.
Following North Korea’s second ICBM test, in a show of strength, the U.S. Army said they conducted a live-fire exercise using surface-to-surface missiles with the South Korean military.
In a statement, the Army said the exercise involved Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and South Korea's Hyunmoo Missile II.
South Korea President Moon Jae-in has called for talks with the U.S. on deploying more anti-missile defense units in the region, and Seoul is speeding up the deployment of four additional THAAD defense system, reports said. South Korea had earlier deployed two such units but the rest were delayed due to environmental concerns.