File photo. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. William Collette)(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon released video Wednesday showing the dramatic moment — in grainy color footage — that the U.S. successfully destroyed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) over the Pacific Ocean during a historic test of its ground-based interceptor system.
The interceptor missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. A little more than one hour later, the Pentagon confirmed that it had successfully collided with an ICBM-class target.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon touted the success of its historic test, calling the intercept a “direct hit” and an “annihilation” of the target.
“All our systems performed exactly as designed,” Vice Adm. Jim Syring, head of the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters Wednesday during a phone briefing.
He said the ground-based interceptor is “ready to defend the homeland” after completing a “very realistic test” that included the use of decoys, similar to what North Korea could use, though he declined to provide specifics.
The intercept occurred in the exo-atmosphere, one thousand miles off the coast of California over the Pacific Ocean, but east of Hawaii.
Syring said the intercept outpaces foreign threats to the U.S. through 2020, which is how far out the U.S. has designed these tests to replicate intelligence projections.
The test occurred just days after the North Korean regime launched another missile this year, though U.S. officials say it had been planned for years.
North Korea has spent the last decade working to develop a nuclear-tipped ICBM capable of reaching the continental United States. Though North Korea has conducted nine missiles tests in 2017 and shown considerable progress toward reaching longer ranges and solid-fuel technology, none have been ICBMs.
Syring said the test is estimated to have cost $244 million.
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