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The U.S. military shot an incoming missile out of the sky in a successful intercept test Wednesday.
It was reported that the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua'i launched the target missile late yesterday, Tuesday, Aug. 29.
"We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone", in advancing the capability to intercept missiles, said Lieutenant General Sam Greaves, the director of the Missile Defense Agency, which is part of the Defense Department. Sailors aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones tracked it with radar and fired an interceptor missile to shoot it down.
The test comes a day after Pyongyang test-launched a ballistic missile over Japan. The North warned that it will continue firing missiles into the Pacific Ocean, adding that the recent test was a "prelude" to possible strikes on or around Guam.
But yesterday's SM-6 test apparently wasn't a direct response to North Korea's most recent launch; the Hawaii operation had been planned for some time, according to The New York Times.
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The U.S. frequently tests elements of its missile defense systems.
The U.S. military still has numerous missile defense assets - from Patriot interceptors to Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems - in the area though.
Separately, the MDA this week awarded Raytheon Missile Systems a $615 million contract, with $45 million in fiscal 2017 funding obligated initially, to produce 17 Standard Missile-3 Block IIA ballistic-missile interceptors and perform related work.
Instead, Trump's terse, written statement reiterating that all US options are being considered pointed to an administration cautiously searching for an effective policy, even as the North's test risked endangering Japanese civilians.
The August 30 test launch was the third time that the Standard Missile-6 successfully engaged a ballistic missile target in its terminal phase.
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