The Missile Defense Agency and its partner commands successfully conducted a test in which a ballistic missile defense system intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target. The May 30 test, which took place in the Pacific Ocean, was the first of the Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system.

The test involved the launch of the ICBM-class target, from the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. An X-band radar based at sea tracked the target’s flight. The interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., intercepted the target, and destroyed it with a direct hit.
While all indications point to a completely successful test, program managers will know for sure once they finish a planned series of flight-data assessments.

“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program. This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat. I am incredibly proud of the warfighters who executed this test and operate this system every day,” said Navy Vice Adm. Jim Syring, the director of the Missile Defense Agency.

The Air Force’s 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and U.S. Northern Command also assisted in the test.

With the GMD element, the Missile Defense Agency would have the capability to identify and destroy intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles before they reach their targets in the U.S. It is part of the overall missile-defense plan, which will incorporate multiple layers of protection against potential threats.