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
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
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.