Hawaii now has fresh worries about its missile defense system on top of its concerns about its emergency warning system. Defense sources tell NBC and the New York Times that the latest test of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor missile, designed to knock out incoming missiles, was a flop. The sources say the SM-3 missed an incoming dummy missile off the Hawaiian coast, marking the second failure in three tests for the US-Japanese system. An SM-3 Block IIA failed to hit a dummy missile over the Pacific in a joint US-Japan test in June, but a test in February was successful. Wednesday's test was the missile system's first-ever flight from the Aegis Ashore facility at Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Missile Defense Agency spokesman Mark Wright confirmed that there was "a live-fire missile flight test" from the Hawaii base, though he didn't confirm or deny its failure, the Times reports. With tensions from North Korea rising—and the country's missile capabilities growing—the SM-3 system is seen as a second line of defense for Hawaii, on top of the ground-based interceptor system based in Alaska and California, which has a record of 10 intercepts in 18 attempts. Officials declined to comment on possible reasons for the latest failure of the Block IIA missile, which can be launched from land or ships. (A worker who sent a false incoming missile alert to Hawaii on Jan. 13 thought the threat was real.)