WASHINGTON — The Missile Defense Agency's ground-based defense system successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first live-fire test of its kind Tuesday (May 30), the agency said.

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense(GMD) is designed to intercept and destroy missiles during the midcourse of their trajectory through space. Tuesday's test was the first time the system had faced a live-fire ICBM-class test, MDA said in a press release.

The interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and its "exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision," the release said. [The Most Destructive Space Weapons Concepts]

A long-range view of the U.S. military's Ground-Based Interceptor launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California during a successful live-fire missile defense test on May 30, 2017.
A long-range view of the U.S. military's Ground-Based Interceptor launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California during a successful live-fire missile defense test on May 30, 2017.
Credit: U.S. Missile Defense Agency

"The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program," MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring said in a statement. "This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat."

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said the successful test will help deter U.S. adversaries.

"The dictator in North Korea surely understands that the United States will not allow itself or its allies to be subject to his threats," Rogers said. "We must do more to build on the success of today's test to truly keep Americans and their allies safe from the threat