|Friday, Nov. 21, 2008
MSDF's SM-3 test fails to shoot down missile
HONOLULU (AP) A Maritime Self-Defense Force ship failed Wednesday to shoot down a midrange ballistic missile target in a test off the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced.
It was only the second time Japan had attempted to shoot down a ballistic missile from a ship at sea. The first attempt last year was successful.
In Wednesday's test, a ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on Kauai was detected and tracked by the crew of the Chokai.
Three minutes later, the MSDF destroyer fired an SM-3 interceptor missile to shoot down the target in space, but the intercept failed.
The joint test followed a similar test last December, when the Kongo, another MSDF destroyer, intercepted a ballistic missile target fired from the facility on Kauai.
Although both this year's and last year's targets were medium-range missiles, this year the target's booster and warhead were designed to separate more slowly. That gave the interceptor missile less time to distinguish between the booster and the warhead when it was homing in on the target.
U.S. Navy ships and the Missile Defense Agency have together conducted over a dozen successful ballistic missile intercepts in tests off Hawaii. Wednesday's test was a chance for the MSDF to verify the technology on board its own ship.
"This is a test for our allies to help build their confidence and understanding of their system," Mary Keifer, Lockheed Martin's director for international ballistic missile defense programs, said before the test.