In what engineers called a first, the US military destroyed two ballistic missile targets simultaneously in space 100 miles (161 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean in a test.
Engineers said it was the first time the US missile defense system had shot down two ballistic missile targets at once outside the earth's atmosphere.
The test demonstrates the system can shoot down targets in operationally realistic conditions, officials said.
"The adversary may not shoot one ballistic missile at us or an ally at a time," said US Navy Rear Admiral Alan B. Hicks, program director for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. "So the ability to engage more than one simultaneously is very important to us and validates what we built the system to do."
The USS Lake Erie fired two interceptors to shoot down two short-range ballistic missiles fired within minutes of one another from a testing range on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.