A missile made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems intercepted a ballistic-missile target and a land-based system using Raytheon radar shot down a second target, in a key test of the nation's missile defense system.

During a test late Monday, two medium-range ballistic missiles were launched nearly simultaneously "on operationally realistic trajectories" towards a defended area near the Marshall Islands' Kwajalein Atoll, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.

The launches were detected by satellite sensors, and the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur tracked one target and launched a Standard Missile-3 Block IA interceptor made by Raytheon Missile Systems to intercept its target. 

The test was the second successful intercept by an SM-3 Block IA missile since a similar missile missed its target during a first-of-its-kind, multiple-interceptor test last October.

At the same time, a land-based missile defense battery, the Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system using Raytheon-made radar hit a second target in a demonstration of the system's "layered defense" capabilities.

The THAAD battery used the Army-Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control (AN/TPY-2) system, made by Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, to track its target. A similar radar was also used in a different mode by the Decatur, along with the SPY-1 radar that is part of the Lockheed Martin's Aegis Combat System.

A second THAAD missile was launched at the missile targeted by the Decatur, in case its SM-3 missed it's mark, the MDA said. 

"This operational test proves our nation has capable, reliable systems deployed today defending the U.S. and its allies against the growing ballistic missile threat," Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems, said in prepared remarks.

The flight test was planned more than a year ago, and is not in any way connected to events in the Middle East, the MDA said.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at dwichner@azstarnet.com or 573-4181.

Senior reporter covering business and technology for the Arizona Daily Star/Tucson.com