US Missile Defense Agency Conducts Successful Test

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Commentary By

Cameron Swathwood is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Last week, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a successful test of the new SM-6 interceptor.

Over the course of several days off the coast of Hawaii, the USS John Paul Jones launched four separate interceptor missiles at distant targets designed to simulate both threatening aircraft and incoming ballistic missiles.

The tests proved successful.

In four separate firings, the Aegis destroyer launched one SM-2 Block IV and three new Raytheon SM-6 interceptors at target missiles launched from separate platforms.

Navy crew members detected, tracked, and fired upon all targets, both ballistic missiles and simulated aircraft. Interceptors successfully intercepted or engaged all targets.

The SM-6 stands alone in this unique ability to strike different types of targets. President of Raytheon Missile Systems Taylor Lawrence stated:

SM-6 is the only missile in the world that can do both anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense from the sea.

The Missile Defense Agency currently plans to integrate the SM-6 into its Sea-Based Terminal Program aboard U.S. Navy ships as part of the Aegis missile defense system and plans to have the system combat-ready by 2016.

As ballistic missile threats continue to proliferate across the globe, the threat to U.S. interests, allies and territory grows slowly but steadily, and missile defense programs like the SM-6 become highly necessary. North Korea poses an increasing threat in this arena, having put a great deal of effort into its nuclear weapons program. A soon to be sanction-free Iran poses a threat as well, as it maintains a solid ballistic missile program.

A ballistic missile launched from anywhere in the world could strike the United States in 33 minutes or less.

Given this clear national security threat, the United States should make a concerted effort to refocus on missile defense—which has been neglected in recent years.

Failure to appropriately secure the United States from ballistic missile attack invites tragedy on a large scale.

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