US shoots down test ballistic missile in THAAD defence drill as North Korea tensions rise

The simulated IRBM was designed to replicate the kinds of missiles that could threaten America, including Kim Jong-un’s arsenal of weapons.

The test was the first-ever of the THAAD system against an incoming IRBM, which experts say is a faster and more difficult target to hit than shorter-range missiles, and comes after North Korea claimed it has successfully tested a intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US.

The Missile Defence Agency (MDA) said in a statement: “The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries.”

The agency added that the ballistic missile had been air-launched from a C-17 aircraft flying north of Hawaii and intercepted by a THAAD in Kodiak, Alaska.

According to a US defence official the test took place on Tuesday.

This success leaves THAAD with a 100 percent track record for all 14 intercept attempts since flight testing began just over a decade ago.

Another THAAD system was deployed in South Korea earlier this year amid growing threats from North Korea.

Propaganda videos released by Kim Jong-un’s regime have show the rogue state destroying the US, including the iconic White House.

The US has also upgraded its assessment of its defence against North Korea’s missile threat after its Ground-based Midcourse Defence (GMD) system successfully shot down an incoming simulated ICBM in a test in May.

The Pentagon had been facing scrutiny over its capability to defend the US against the growing North Korean threat, with a US Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, noting that until now the MDA had not tested against an IRBM.

The latest IRBM test proves the US defence capability against missiles with a range of between 1,800 and 3,100miles (3,000 to 5,500km).

In order to hit the mainland United States, North Korea would need to fire an ICBM, which is defined as a missile with a range greater than 3,400miles (5,500km).

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