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Missile Interceptor Fired from Japanese Destroyer  (Source: Reuters)
Japanese destroyer shoots down incoming ballistic missile

Since the Reagan era, the United States has wanted to develop a system that could defeat ballistic missiles in the air before they were able to impact their targets. This concept was part of what was dubbed the “Star Wars” program during Reagan’s tenure.

It has taken many years and lots of effort, but the system Reagan envisioned is now becoming reality. The main difference is that rather than using lasers to intercept ballistic missiles in-flight, other missiles are more commonly used.

Japanese and U.S. officials announced a successful test where a Japanese destroyer, the Kongo, used the Aegis shipboard radar and tracking system and Standard Missile-3 interceptors to destroy an incoming ballistic missile.

Reuters reports that this is the first successful test of a ballistic missile shield by a U.S. ally. This missile detection and defense system will be used to protect Japan and Taiwan from missiles with nuclear, biological or chemical warheads. The system is needed in the area due to the missile tests being performed by North Korea and the growing ballistic missile threat from China.

The test was a joint operation between Japanese and American forces. The simulated ballistic missile was launched from an American missile range in Kauai, Hawaii. The missile fired in the test was of similar size and speed to the missiles known to be in the North Korean arsenal. The interception of the ballistic missile by the SM-3 interceptor missile was made about three minutes after the ballistic missile was fired from the U.S. range at an altitude of about 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

Japan’s Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba told Reuters, “We are taking one step at a time. Just because it worked [the missile interception] this time doesn't mean we can rely on it 100 percent.”

American armed forces recently outfitted C130 aircraft with high-energy lasers for destroying targets both in the air and on the ground. This laser system in aircraft could be used to defeat ballistic missiles in flight as well when perfected, providing additional support for the land and sea based missile shield.





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