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U.S. To Test Missile Defense In Alaska Amid Growing North Korean Threat

A Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launcher in South Korea (file photo)

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency says that it will within days test a sophisticated anti-ballistic-missile system, after North Korea this week launched a missile deemed capable of striking Alaska.

The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to be tested is designed to intercept and destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

The agency said the test against a ballistic-missile target will be conducted in "early July" at the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska's Kodiak Island.

Though such exercises are planned months in advance, it comes after North Korea on July 4 for the first time test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) deemed capable of reaching Alaska and Hawaii.

THAAD is not designed to stop an ICBM -- that job is left primarily to the ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which has a much lower success rate than THAAD.

THAAD is the same system the United States recently deployed in South Korea and is touted as "100 percent successful" so far.

China and Russia opposed THAAD's deployment in Korea, saying it would destabilize the power balance in the region.

THAAD batteries are also installed in Guam and Hawaii to stop an intermediate-range missile from North Korea.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters