WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Japan on Monday (GMT)
successfully tested a U.S.-built system off the coast of Hawaii, which is
designed to track and destroy missiles.
Japanese destroyer Kongo successfully shot down a
medium-range missile in space over the Pacific Ocean, according to a statement
from the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, which hailed the test as "a major
milestone in the growing cooperation between Japan and the United States."
The target missile was fired from a U.S. missile
range on the island of Kauai.
Japan -- the first U.S. ally to fire an interceptor
-- paid some 55 million U.S. dollars for the test.
In the test, the Kongo fired a ballistic missile
interceptor called Standard Missile 3, which successfully destroyed the target
outside the earth's atmosphere at 2212 GMT.
Kongo is the first of four Japanese Maritime Self
Defense Forces destroyers due to be outfitted with the missile interceptors.
Japan is planning missile defenses on naval ships and
It will deploy four Aegis ships capable of
intercepting ballistic missiles by 2010, starting with the Kongo.
It started installing U.S.-supplied Patriot missiles
outside Tokyo in March, part of its plan for a ground-based missile defense
Missile defense cooperation between the United States
and Japan has been expanding in the recent years.
However, experts like Bruce Bennett at the RAND Corp.
said it will be a couple of years before Japan installs enough missile
interceptors on board its ships to substantially boost its capabilities.
The U.S.-Japan alliance has also suffered from two
One involves allegations that a 34-year-old Japanese
lieutenant commander leaked classified data involving the Aegis system.
The other is Tokyo's suspension of a program to
refuel U.S. ships supporting coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan.