- REUTERS/U.S. Missile Defense Agency/Leah Garton/Handout via Reuters
- The US Navy conducted a test intercept on Wednesday of its SM-3 Block IIA missile, part of the larger Aegis Ashore missile defense system.
- The test was reportedly a failure according to administration officials, though the Pentagon has not confirmed the result.
- The reported failure comes as tensions with North Korea are high, and as Japan plans to buy the system for its own defense.
The US Navy reportedly conducted a failed ballistic missile intercept test on Wednesday, the second failed test involving a SM-3 Block IIA in a year.
The missile was fired from an Aegis Ashore missile defense station in Hawaii and missed its intended target, which was launched from an aircraft.
The Department of Defense confirmed to CNN that a test had taken place, but did not mention the result.
“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,” DoD spokesman Mark Wright told CNN.
If confirmed, the test would be the second time this year that the missile, made by Raytheon, failed to intercept its target during tests. The last failure happened in July of last year, and was blamed on a sailor accidentally entering data that identified the target as a friendly, causing the missile to self-destruct.
Raytheon is developing the missile as part of a joint project between the US and Japan, which plans to install two of the systems on its mainland in order to defend against threats from North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.
The failure comes amid high tensions between the US and North Korea. Defense officials told CNN that they would not publicly discuss the failed launch, in part because of “sensitivities surrounding North Korea.”