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By COREY BYERS
The Japanese military recently conducted a successful missile defense exercise, thanks in part to engineers at the Naval Support Facility at Dahlgren.
According to a statement from the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, Japan's first-ever missile intercept occurred last Monday off the coast of Hawaii. Within 10 minutes, a Japanese ship tracked and destroyed a ballistic missile in space, far above the Pacific Ocean.
Pam Rogers, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said the missile was the same as what would be used in combat, but did not carry an explosive warhead.
The alliance said Japan paid approximately $57 million for the exercise. The Japanese government is building its own defense system.
"This historic first missile intercept by Japan demonstrates to the Japanese public that Japan has proven its capability to defend and protect their country from North Korean missiles," the statement said.
"In 1998, North Korea launched a ballistic unannounced over the country of Japan in 1998. Since then, North Korea has built its force to approximately 200 ballistic missiles."
Scott Such, a program director for the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren, said the Japanese test serves as a deterrent. He said personnel know they are contributing to something historic.
"When we can demonstrate that we can defend against that type of missile, people will think twice about launching them," Such said.
The center is working with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, which is also stationed at Dahlgren. A spokesman for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense did not return a call for comment.
Such said Japanese crews visited the base for training and Dahlgren personnel also went to Hawaii for the exercise. This was the fourth successful intercept for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense this year.
Such said similar tests are scheduled for next year.Corey Byers: 540/735-1976