On May 30, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the United States Air Force successfully tested the Homeland Missile Defense System, shooting down an intercontinental ballistic missile in the first "live fire" test of the system's Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element. The GMD consists of a land-based, fire-control system and interceptor missiles designed to strike ICBMs in flight outside the atmosphere. The interceptor missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and it destroyed an "ICBM-class target" launched from the Kwajelein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The ICBM was tracked by multiple radars, including the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a giant radome mounted aboard a "semi-submersible" platform that resembles a giant self-propelled oil rig.
"The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program," said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring in an official statement. "This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat."