U.S. is Set to Test the THAAD Missile Defense Days After North Korea Launched Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

July 09, 2017Jul 09, 2017

The United States plans to carry out a new test called the THAAD missile defense system against an intermediate-range ballistic missile in the next few days, according to a DOD official.

Recently, North Korea test-launched a long-range missile potentially capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the western United States.

The Hwasong-14 flew for 37 minutes, according to US Pacific Command, and traveled about 578 miles. It didn’t go as far as it could because it was shot at a high trajectory, likely to ensure it didn’t make another country believe it was being attacked. The long-range missile eventually landed in the sea between Japan and North Korea, but analysts believe it could have traveled as far as 4,200 miles if it had been fired with the intent to strike a target.

U.S. missile defense test will gain significance in the wake of North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4 that has heightened concerns about the threat from North Korea.

The test will be the first of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to defend against a simulated attack by an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), one of the officials said. The THAAD interceptors will be fired from Alaska.

The United States has THAAD interceptors in Guam that are meant to help guard against a missile attack from a country such as North Korea.

Chris Johnson, an MDA spokesman, said the THAAD weapon system at the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, would "detect, track and engage a target with a THAAD interceptor."

"The test is designated as Flight Test THAAD (FTT)-18," Johnson said. He did not give more details.