THAAD shoots down 1st IRBM over Alaska – Missile Defense Agency

THAAD shoots down 1st IRBM over Alaska – Missile Defense Agency
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system has successfully shot down a target over Alaska, in the system's first intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) intercept, according to the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

THAAD managed to shoot down the IRBM target launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska, on Tuesday, the MDA said in a statement cited by Reuters.

“The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries around the globe and contributes to the broader strategic deterrence architecture,” the MDA said in the statement.

READ MORE: Russia, China: N. Korea must freeze nuclear activities, US halt THAAD deployment

“I couldn't be more proud of the government and contractor team who executed this flight test today,” MDA director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said, as quoted by Fox News. “This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats. THAAD continues to protect our citizens, deployed forces and allies from a real and growing threat.”

The target was launched from an Air Force C-17 cargo plane over the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii.

“The THAAD radar first detected, acquired and tracked the target. The THAAD system then developed a fire control solution and launched an interceptor that destroyed the target's reentry vehicle with sheer force of a direct collision,” a statement from Lockheed Martin, the system's manufacturer, states. 

Lockheed’s vice-president of Upper Tier Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems, Richard McDaniel, called THAAD's performance on Tuesday “flawless.”

“This was the 14th successful intercept in 14 attempts for the THAAD system since 2005,” the Lockheed Martin statement says. Previous targets, however, were of different types than the latest IRBM.

READ MORE: Missile launched by North Korea was intermediate range, not ICBM – Russian Defense Ministry

The THAAD system has made recent headlines following Washington's decision to deploy it to South Korea – a move which Washington and Seoul say is aimed at defending against any potential North Korean missiles.

However, Beijing and Moscow say the system deployed to South Korea “gravely damages strategic safety interests of regional powers, including Russia and China, and do not contribute to the ‘de-nuclearization’ of the Korean Peninsula, as well as towards establishing peace and stability in the region.”

Meanwhile, North Korea has continued to conduct missile tests despite calls from the US, the United Nations, and others to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Pyongyang claims to have test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week, which leader Kim Jong-un called a "gift" for the "American bastards" as they celebrated the Fourth of July.

The launch, which took place despite a ban from the UN Security Council, once again raised concern from the international community.

However, South Korean intelligence services said earlier on Tuesday that Pyongyang is unlikely to have the technology to build ICBMs or have the testing facilities for them.