A test of a US interceptor missile in Hawaii failed on Wednesday, according to CNN, which quoted unnamed US officials.
The SM-3 Block IIA missile was reportedly fired from an Aegis Ashore test site in Hawaii. Several administration officials told CNN the missile was launched from the ground and apparently failed to intercept an incoming target launched from an aircraft.
The rocket, produced by Raytheon, is designed to intercept ballistic missiles.
US press reports stated that if confirmed, it would mark the second unsuccessful test of the Raytheon missile in the past year. It also marks an embarrassment for the Pentagon, which is trying to assure the US public that it has an effective shield against nuke-armed missiles from North Korea aimed at the US mainland.
US Missile Defense Agency spokesman Mark Wright confirmed that a test occurred but declined to comment on its outcome. “The Missile Defense Agency and US Navy sailors manning the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC) conducted a live-fire missile flight test using a Standard-Missile (SM)-3 Block IIA missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, Wednesday morning,” Wright told Defense News.
Officials reportedly told CNN that the Defense Department is staying mum “due, in part, to sensitivities surrounding North Korea’s participation in the upcoming Olympic Games and continuing tensions with leader Kim Jong-un.”
Defense News says a prior SM-3 Block IIA test failed in June after a sailor on the destroyer USS John Paul Jones mistakenly activated the missile’s self-destruct mechanism.
The missile’s last successful intercept of a target occurred last February in a well-publicized event. The missile is being developed by Raytheon under a joint US-Japan project to counter an escalating missile threat from North Korea and potential foes such as China.