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What's known about missile shield in Hawaii

The missile defense system deployed in Kauai in response to North Korea worries has been tested successfully several times, but never in combat.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered the THAAD anti-missile system to be deployed in Hawaii. At left, the system successfully intercepted atarget in a test conducted on June 25, 2008 at the Pacific Missile RangeFacility in Kauai.

Lockheed Martin/File

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A missile defense system yet to be tested in battle could be thrust to the forefront to protect US soil amid concerns that North Korea may be preparing a missile strike that could hit Hawaii.

An unconfirmed Japanese media report said recently that Pyongyang was considering a test-fire of its Taepodong-2 ballistic missile in early July that could be within range of the Hawaiian islands. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the Pentagon is watching the situation "very closely" and is confident of being able to shoot down anything lobbed toward the US.

As a precaution, Mr. Gates has ordered a portable missile defense system called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, or THAAD, to be redeployed on Hawaii. A sea-based sensor system known as SBX, which is designed to alert defense systems to an airstrike within seconds, is also part of the deployment.

The THAAD system is now positioned at what's called the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai, say military officials with US Pacific Command, which is headquartered in Hawaii.

"[W]ithout telegraphing what we will do, I would just say ... we are in a good position should it become necessary to protect American territory," Gates said Thursday.

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