US fails to shoot down ballistic missile in test

WASHINGTON — An American attempt to gauge the military's ability to shoot down medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and counter potential threats from North Korea failed Wednesday night, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense.

At approximately 7:20 p.m local time, a medium-range ballistic target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii and was tracked by the USS John Paul Jones. The ship launched a SM-3 guided missile, which failed to intercept the target, the agencies said in a statement.

The U.S. and Japan are working together to develop the SM-3, which is designed to take down medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Program officials will analyze the test data to determine what went wrong.

This was the fourth flight test using an SM-3 missile, and the second intercept test. A test conducted in February was successful.

Late last month, in a successful test, a U.S. long-range interceptor missile destroyed an intercontinental-range missile fired from a test site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

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Missile defense test from Vandenberg Air Force Base
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Missile defense test from Vandenberg Air Force Base

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

People watch the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launch during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

People watch as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

People watch as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

People watch as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

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