The US Military Just Blew Up an ICBM With Another Missile

Ground, air, and space-based sensors helped interceptor missiles track the ICBM in a military test.

3. 28. 19 by Dan Robitzski
Department of Defense
Image by Department of Defense

Missile Test

On Monday, The U.S. Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) intercepted and shot down an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that had been launched from the Republic of Marshall Islands.

The U.S. was testing its ability to destroy a hostile missile before it reached the U.S. In this case, sensors on the ground, as well as those floating in the Pacific Ocean and orbiting in space, helped track the ICBM, guiding interceptor missiles launched from California to their target, according to an MDA press release — a sign that the military is readying itself for any future nuclear threats.

Simulated Conditions

While the military’s ability to smack an inbound missile out of the sky is impressive, the nature of running a test means that the odds were slightly stacked in the MDA’s favor. For instance, the MDA knew when and where the ICBM would be launched, whereas an actual attack might come as a surprise.

While the MDA’s announcement was scarce as far as specific, technical details go, past missile defense tests boasted impressive results because they were conducted under ideal, simplified conditions.

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Still Cool

That said, the military just shot down a missile with a missile, which is an extremely metal thing to be able to do.

And while the MDA says it’s still gathering and analyzing data from the test, the organization is celebrating the interceptor missile strike as a successful demonstration of the military’s ability to defend against a nuclear strike.

“This was the first GBI salvo intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target, and it was a critical milestone,” MDA Director and Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves said in the press release. “The system worked exactly as it was designed to do, and the results of this test provide evidence of the practicable use of the salvo doctrine within missile defense.”

READ MORE: US Military Shoots ICBM Target Out of the Sky in Missile Defense Test [Space.com]

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More on missile defense: Watch a Missile Smash a Dummy Nuclear Warhead out of the Sky


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