A US warship has shot down a ballistic missile in space as part of the latest test of the military's advanced interceptor technology. And the entire feat was caught on video. The clip captures the moment sailors aboard the USS John Finn intercepted the medium-range ballistic missile target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA off the west coast of Hawaii.
The SM-3 eviscerates its targets through the use of "sheer force," rather than an explosive warhead, explains Live Science. Its manufacturer Raytheon describes the interceptor as a "kill vehicle" that rams into a ballistic missile with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph. Or like "shooting a bullet with another bullet" -- emphasising the insane velocities involved in the feat.
The armament can be deployed both on land and at sea, where it is utilized as part of the Navy's Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. It's designed to intercept short-and-medium-range ballistic missiles -- like the ones Russia and North Korea are stockpiling -- before the inbound threats re-enter the atmosphere.
This latest test marks only the second-ever success for the SM-3, following two botched launches in which it failed to hit its targets. "This was a superb accomplishment and key milestone for the SM-3 Block IIA return to flight," said Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. "My congratulations to the entire team, including our sailors, industry partners, and allies who helped achieve this milestone."
The MDA hailed the test a triumph, based on observations and initial data review, noting that it will continue to evaluate the system's performance.