As we head into the new year, we wanted to look back at a milestone from 2020. Last year, the US military’s missile defense capabilities were bolstered significantly when a US Navy warship successfully shot down an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) during a test. 

US Navy sailors aboard the USS John Finn, a missile defense destroyer, intercepted and destroyed an ICBM in a test off the coast of Hawaii. The destroyer was equipped with the latest Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system and has fulfilled its mission of successfully testing the SM-3 Block IIA Guided Missile to shoot down an ICBM. 

After the US Missile Defence Agency announced the results of the test, they posted a very cool video of it on their website along with an accompanying animated video. The successful test paves the way for a more robust nuclear missile defense network for the United States. 

“We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target, which is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland,” Vice Admiral John Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement. 

For decades, ICBM technology outstripped missile defense systems, putting the United States at risk during the Cold War. However, missile defense technology has taken drastic steps forward, and previous missile defense tests saw ground-based interceptors shoot down ICBMs. However, to this point, a warship had been unable to take down an ICBM. This new weapons capability is an important step forward for US missile defense, as it could enable warships to patrol the American coastlines and stop incoming ICBM attacks.