U.S. flexes muscle in missile test off Kauai

Published: Feb. 14, 2013 at 2:47 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 at 3:43 AM HST
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BARKING SANDS, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. flexed its military might, and big explosion off West Kauai sent a message to the world: that America's defense system has excellent aim - and a long reach.

That explosion was a direct hit on a ballistic missile target, and it comes - just days after North Korea tested its third nuclear device.

The Missile Defense Agency and Navy sailors aboard the U.S.S. Lake Erie conducted this flight test in open waters off Kauai. The team launched a single, medium-range ballistic missile from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands - just after 11 o'clock Tuesday night.

A satellite defense system detected and tracked the missile - then forwarded the data to the guided missile cruiser, Lake Erie, which was on standby. The ship then used a launch-on-remote block missile which intercepted and destroyed the target. Officials believe the test shows the potential for longer-range intercepts and a defense of larger areas.

The U.S. launch came just as North Koreans were celebrating, what they describe as, their third successful nuclear test. Pyongyang said it was an act of self-defense against U.S. hostility and threatened stronger action, if necessary.

The United Nations Security Council condemned North Korea's move - as did President Barack Obama and the new U.S. Secretary of State.

"North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program are a threat now to the United States of America because of what they are pursuing specifically, as well as to global security and peace."

Secretary Kerry says the international community now needs to come together with a swift, clear, strong, credible response.

The Navy says the U.S. defense system at PMRF has successfully intercepted 24 of 30 missiles since testing began 11 years ago.

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