US military conducts 'successful' missile intercept test off Palau

The US military says it has conducted a successful missile intercept test off the coast of Palau. It was the first-ever such live-fire exercise in the Pacific island nation.

The test was conducted on Wednesday as part of "Valiant Shield," a biennial joint drill held by the US Indo-Pacific Command on Guam and Palau, and in nearby waters. NHK and several other media outlets were allowed to cover the launch of the two Patriot missiles.

A drone playing the part of an enemy missile was launched from an airport near Palau's largest city of Koror.

About 10 minutes later, the two Patriot missiles were fired about three seconds apart to intercept the drone.

The US military says the target was shot down over waters about 30 kilometers off the coast.

Brig. Gen. Mark Holler, commander of the US Army's 94th Army, Air and Missile Defense Command, said the test was "100 percent successful -- everything went exactly according to plan."

The US military said the aim of the exercise in Palau was to strengthen its defense capabilities through training in a place where it has never conducted a missile firing.

China is increasing its presence in the Pacific. Beijing signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April.

Palau has no military and hosts US forces to defend the country. The nation also maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan.