The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, deployed to South Korea to counter missile threats from North Korea, has become operational, according to the US military.
The advanced missile defence system has entered service days after the US military started moving THAAD equipment to the designated South Korean site, according to media sources.
US Forces Korea spokesman colonel Rob Manning was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying: "US Forces Korea confirms the THAAD system is operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend the Republic of Korea.”
The missile defence system has entered service despite protests from local residents over its deployment.
It is anticipated to achieve full operational capability over the next few months, reported media sources citing a US military official.
The US and South Korea joined forces in July 2016 to deploy the THAAD system, in response to North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missile technology.
The THAAD will be able to shoot down short and medium-range ballistic missiles.
This highly mobile system can intercept missiles inside and outside the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the US Pacific Command detected a ballistic missile launch near the Puk Chang airfield in North Korea.
The command said that the missile, launched on 29 April, did not leave North Korean territory.
According to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.