The US Missile Defense Agency successfully tested its defence system against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time on Tuesday.
A ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California "successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target" fired from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands, the Pentagon announced.
The statement said that this first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD), was long-planned but it comes amid increased tensions with North Korea.
The test saw a rocket from the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system blast into space and then deploy its "exo-atmospheric kill vehicle," which smashed into the dummy ICBM, destroying it in a direct collision.
MDA Director Vice Adm Jim Syring called the test a "critical milestone". "This system is vitally important to the defence of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat," Syring said.
"Initial indications are that the test met its primary objective, but program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test," the US military statement read.
The missile defense system will comprise 44 interceptors by the end of the year, so it could thwart an attack from a rogue state or a volley of rockets.