US ‘Successfully’ Tests Its Layered Missile Defense System

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The United States hailed as major success the test of a complex layered missile defense system on Sunday. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said in a statement that the test demonstrated the ability of THAAD and Aegis weapon systems to locate and destroy ballistic and cruise missiles at once. According to Reuters, the test cost $230 million. The military praised the test even though one missile failed early in its flight and missed the intended target.

US proves the effectiveness of its layered defense

The missile defense system was tested near Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean at 11:05 PM EDT on Sunday. The MDA said it was a highly complex test of the ballistic missile defense system, which required all elements to work together to detect, track, engage, and destroy the ballistic missile threats. According to Riki Ellison of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, it was the first time Washington proved the effectiveness of its layered defense.

The U.S. is planning to deploy THAAD system in Europe and South Korea. The successful test will boost Washington’s confidence. However, military experts argue that such tests do not simulate the real-life threats. The test included Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) onboard the USS John Paul Jones destroyer and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense systems.

A layered missile defense system assures protection

During the test, a THAAD system detected and destroyed a short-range target that was launched by a C-17 transport aircraft. Meanwhile, the destroyer and THAAD both launched missiles to intercept a mid-range ballistic missile that was launched by another C-17 aircraft. Though THAAD hit the target with precision, the Raytheon SM-3 Block IB missile failed to intercept the target. The MDA said it was investigating the problem.

THAAD’s ability to destroy the second target demonstrates the importance of having a layered missile defense system. Even if one missile fails to intercept, another system could detect and destroy enemy threats. That’s the reason MDA hailed it as success. If America deploys the missile defense system in Europe, it is expected to draw a sharp reaction from Russia.

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