The U.S. and China have carried out interceptor missile tests and Japan has launched a reconnaissance satellite, possibly with an eye on North Korea's recent threats of further provocations and recent rocket launch.
The U.S. Defense Department successfully test-launched a missile interceptor rocket from the central Californian coast, a press release said Sunday.
It launched a three-stage ground-based interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base the previous afternoon. The interceptor reached outer space. "After separating from the booster, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle executed a variety of pre-planned maneuvers to collect performance data in space," the press release added.
"Data from this flight test will be used to evaluate… system performance in a flight environment."
The aim is to launch interceptor missiles from a ground, sea or aerial base to destroy incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles from North Korea or Iran in midcourse outside the atmosphere before it reaches the U.S. mainland.
China also test-launched a mid-range interceptor missile Sunday, according the official Xinhua news agency. The report came around 11 p.m., apparently in response to news about the U.S. test launch.
"The test has reached the preset goal," a Chinese Defense Ministry official said. "The test is defensive in nature and targets no other country."
The Chinese missile can intercept an incoming ICBM with a range of more than 7,000 km or mid-range missiles with a range of 4,000 to 5,000 km at an altitude of more than 100 km.
Chinese military experts in online posts said the interceptor missile is superior to the U.S.' Patriot missile because it can destroy incoming missiles at a higher altitude and greater speed. The Patriot system destroys incoming missiles at an altitude of only 15 km.
Japan earlier launched an H2-A rocket carrying a spy satellite and an experimental optical probe.