A US warship successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile in a test off Hawaii on Wednesday — as North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un vowed to forge ahead with more missile tests in the Pacific, officials said.
The USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked a missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai before intercepting it with SM-6 missiles, the US Missile Defense Agency said.
The interception comes after a previous failed test in June from the same guided-missile destroyer, Fox News reported.
“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement.
“We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves,” he added.
The ship detected and tracked the target missile “with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar,” the statement read.
The test comes after the Hermit Kingdom fired a ballistic missile from its capital Pyongyang that flew over Japanese territory before plunging into the northern Pacific Ocean on Tuesday.
The provocative test-flight over the territory of a close US ally sent a clear message of defiance as Washington and Seoul conduct war games nearby.
President Trump offered a more tepid response Tuesday, pulling back from his administration’s recent suggestions of a dialogue with the rogue regime – and also avoiding a repeat of his apocalyptic warnings of unleashing “fire and fury.”
Instead, he declared that “all options are on the table.”
Meanwhile, North Korea on Wednesday released images of its intermediate-range ballistic missile launch over Japan a day earlier.
The Hwasong-12 — the first missile the nation has fired over Japan — was “guided” by Kim, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
“Involved in the drill were Hwasong artillery units…tasked with striking the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces located in the Pacific operational theater,” the North’s KCNA news agency reported, according to USA Today.
In the images, the diminutive despot is seen in a dark suit studying a map with a computer screen in the background showing the path of the missile, the Telegraph of the UK reported.
A pair of binoculars — which he apparently used to watch the missile being fired into the sky from Pyongyang’s airport — rest on the table to the side of him.
Another photo shows a beaming Kim sitting at a table with a map while surrounded by officials and officers.
The United Nations has condemned North Korea’s “outrageous” firing of a missile over Japan, demanding that the isolated country cease its weapons program, but held back on any threat of new sanctions.
North Korea said the launch was to counter the US and South Korean military drills.
“The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA Korean People’s Army) in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying Wednesday.