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The Pentagon recently intercepted a test ballistic missile with the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA system, the second time that weapon has been successfully tested – a relief for the department following two consecutive test failures. The intercept took place on the west coast of Hawaii.

While the first system test in February 2017 was successful, a second test in June 2017 was washed out after a sailor accidentally triggered the missile’s self-destruct feature by misidentifying it as a friendly target. A third test, held in January 2018, ended in a failure that cost taxpayers $130 million.

The SM-3 Block IIA is the product of a collaboration between the U.S. and Japan. It is expected to be equipped on both the U.S. Aegis Ashore stations in Romania and Poland and the future Aegis Ashore stations in Japan, making it a keystone to America’s short and intermediate range missile defense strategies.

The system can be launched from sea or land via the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system.


“This was a superb accomplishment and key milestone for the SM-3 Block IIA return to flight,” Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement. “My congratulations to the entire team, including our sailors, industry partners, and allies who helped achieve this milestone.”

“This second intercept for the SM-3 Block IIA is a success we share with the Missile Defense Agency and the country of Japan, our cooperative development partners,” Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president, said in a statement. “Together, we are building the most advanced solutions for ballistic missile defense.”

Greaves emphasized that even in an intercept failure, MDA gains a wealth of knowledge from each test launch, as reported in defensenews.com.