Navy Successfully Tests Groundbreaking Missile Defense System

Destroyers can now shoot down ICBMs in space

The USS Zumwalt, a Navy destroyer / Getty Images
• November 17, 2020 7:00 pm


The U.S. Navy successfully tested a new missile defense system that can shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile from outer space, according to a Missile Defense Agency announcement.

On Tuesday, agency base in the Marshall Islands launched a projectile into space headed toward Hawaii. Navy sensors detected the missile, and the USS John Finn launched the new missile defense system and successfully struck down the projectile.

Navy officials applauded the event as a successful test of a first-of-its-kind weapons system.

"This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the … program," said Vice Admiral Jon Hill.

Raytheon, the defense contractor that designed the new system, expressed equal enthusiasm.  "This first-of-its-kind test shows that our nation has a viable option for a new layer of defense against long-range threats," Raytheon vice president Bryan Rosselli told Defense News.

The successful test occurs as the threat of North Korea and Iran's development of ICBMs and other missiles continues to grow. Earlier this fall, Pyongyang unveiled a new deadly ICBM with the potential of striking the United States. Iran, meanwhile, now touts missile systems, named after deceased general Qassem Soleimani, that it can fire off by sea.

Washington's new weapons system marks the first successful anti-ICBM missile defense able to launch by sea.

The test also comes as the Trump administration focuses on the Navy in an effort to project global power and counter China.

In recent weeks, President Trump called for outfitting the same type of destroyers as the USS John Finn with hypersonic weapons, a new, advanced weapons system wanted by the Chinese. Former secretary of defense Mark Esper also recently called for the creation of "Battle Force 2045," a new Pentagon initiative to create a 500-ship navy to retain maritime supremacy and counter Beijing's expansionist goals.

Published under: Defense, Missile Defense, Navy