US Aegis destroyer demonstrates the ability to shoot down a maneuvering antiship missile like China’s DF missiles

The US Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), an Aegis baseline 9.C1 equipped destroyer, successfully fired a salvo of two SM-6 Dual I missiles against a complex medium-range ballistic missile target, demonstrating the Sea Based Terminal endo-atmospheric defensive capability and meeting the test’s primary objective.

The test was conducted off the coast of Hawaii just after midnight on Dec. 14.

“This test demonstrated the capabilities MDA and the Navy are delivering to our fleet commanders,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring. “The SM-6 missile and the Aegis Weapon System continue to prove that they are critical components of our nation’s multilayered, robust ballistic missile defense system.”

The SM-6 missile uses an explosive warhead to defeat ballistic missile threats, differing from other missile defense interceptors, such as the Standard Missile-3, which use non-explosive hit-to-kill technology.

The target missile was representative of a maneuvering incoming warhead similar to the ones mounted on the Chinese DF-21D or DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missiles.

If MDA test was indeed representative of a DF-21D or DF-26 type threat, it would help to explain why the U.S. Navy is so confident of its ability to operate inside those weapons’ threat rings.

In an actual conflict China would fire multiple missiles to overwhelm defense systems.