The United States military completed the comprehensive testing of its layered missile defense system in the Pacific Ocean, with the military praising the exercise as successful despite one missile missing its intended target.

According to the military, the testing showed that the Aegis and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, weapons systems had the ability to seek out and eliminate incoming cruise and ballistic missiles.

The testing, which cost around $230 million, was conducted in the western Pacific Ocean near Wake Island at 11:05 p.m. EDT. The agencies present during the exercise were the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. European Command, the U.S. Pacific Command, the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense and the Ballistic Missile Defense System Operational Test Agency.

"This was a highly complex operational test of the BMDS which required all elements to work together in an integrated layered defense design to detect, track, discriminate, engage, and negate the ballistic missile threats," the Missile Defense Agency said.

Nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance founder Riki Ellison said that the successful testing is the first instance that the military proved that a layered defense is effective in neutralizing missile threats.

Ellison added that the exercise would improve the confidence in the plans of the United States to launch a THAAD system in Europe, and might assist in a proposal to send such a system over to South Korea.

The test saw the THAAD system detect and destroy a short-range missile which was fired by a C-17 plane. Simultaneously, while the THAAD was locked on the short-range missile, another C-17 launched an extended medium-range ballistic missile. The THAAD and the USS John Paul Jones, the destroyer where the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system was on board, both fired missiles to neutralize the second target. The missile fired by the Aegis system, however, failed early in its launch and missed.

The Missile Defense Agency is now investigating what caused the malfunction.

Critics have often said that missile defense system tests are too simple, as they do not simulate potential threats that can be encountered in real life situations.

However, according to Ellison, the ability of THAAD to neutralize the second missile revealed the need for such a layered system.

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