U.S. missile interceptor test fails

Test of U.S. missile interceptor fails in Hawaii, the second such unsuccessful attempt in less than a year.

Ben Ariel,

American flag
American flag

A test of a U.S. missile interceptor failed in Hawaii on Wednesday, a defense official said, marking the second such unsuccessful attempt in less than a year.

The test using the Aegis Ashore system occurred at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai, Missile Defense Agency spokesman Mark Wright said in a statement quoted by AFP.

Wright said the test was of an SM-3 Block IIA missile, made by arms giant Raytheon and designed to intercept intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

A defense official told AFP the test was a failure and investigators have opened a probe.

Wednesday's failure comes after another unsuccessful test in June of the missile, which is being jointly developed by the United States and Japan.

A test firing in February 2017 was successful, noted AFP.

The failed test comes amid heightened tensions over North Korea's ballistic missile program. Last year, North Korea tested ICBMs that had the potential range of reaching the United States mainland. Most recently, it launched a Hwasong-15 missile, a new type of ICBM which officials said can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles).

Pyongyang said following that launch as well that that it had test-fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, and also declared itself to be "a responsible nuclear power".

Earlier this week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the BBC that he believes North Korea may be able to strike the U.S. within "a handful of months."

On Tuesday, however, General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said North Korea has not yet proven that its fusing and targeting technologies can survive the stresses of ballistic missile flight.

Hawaii is on edge after its Emergency Management Agency triggered mass panic with a false alert of a ballistic missile headed for the Pacific islands. Earlier this week, the state employee who sent the false alarm was fired.