Japan successfully intercepted a mock ballistic missile off Hawaii in a test fire shortly after local time Monday noon, Japanese Defense Ministry officials said Tuesday.
The test of the Standard Missile 3, which was launched by a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyer in the Pacific Ocean, was the first by a country other than the United States.
With the help of the US Navy, which launched a mid-range ballistic missile from its military base in the Pacific, the Aegis-equipped Kongou of the MSDF several hundred kilometers away detected it and fired an SM-3 to intercept it at an altitude of more than 100 kilometers at around 7:12 a.m. Japan time Monday.
Kyodo News quoted experts as saying that the success marks an important progress in Japan's construction of its missile shield. They also expressed concern over the breaking up of military balance in the region.
Japan originally planned to conduct the test-fire in March 2008, but has accelerated its preparation and moved the project forward.
(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2007)