By Shuhei Kuromi and Junya Hashimoto / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondents WASHINGTON/NEW YORK — The U.S. Defense Department plans to conduct a test-firing of the next-generation interceptor missile in the Pacific Ocean in May, CNN reported Tuesday.
The new missile is aimed at countering medium-range ballistic missiles being developed by North Korea.
It is assumed that the test-firing aims to deter North Korea.
The missile to be test-fired is the Standard Missile-3 Block 2A, which is designed to intercept a ballistic missile in outer space.
Compared with conventional Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), the new interceptor missile has increased destructive power, longer range and higher capability of identifying and pursuing targets.
The Japanese and U.S. governments have been jointly developing the new interceptor missile and aim to complete development by the end of fiscal 2017.
In February, it was announced that a test-firing of the new missile from an Aegis-equipped destroyer was successful.
Meanwhile, CNN reported the Pentagon will also test-fire ground-based interceptor missiles deployed in Alaska and California in late May, under the assumption that North Korea will complete development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
North Korea is stepping up efforts to obtain technology to develop missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland. Pyongyang recently conducted a combustion experiment for a rocket engine, which is expected to be used for ICBMs currently under development.