The US Navy had 90 seconds to defend itself when Iranian-backed militants fired on them off Yemen

Uss masonUS NavyUSS Mason (DDG-87) fires an SM-2 during a March 2016 exercise.

At about 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday in the Bab-al-Mandab Strait between Yemen and Eritrea, the USS Mason, a guided missile destroyer, detected an incoming missile.

The ship’s Aegis Combat System, an advanced radar and fire control system spotted the thread as it zoomed towards the ship.

“You have about 90 seconds from saying ‘yes, that’s a missile” to launching an interceptor missile, one US official told Stars and Stripes.

And that’s exactly what the commanding officer of the Mason did.

“We actually saw an explosion,” an official involved with the operation told Stars and Stripes.

For decades now Aegis radar and fire control systems have protected US ships and citizens by keeping a close eye on the skies.

However, the sight of massive US Navy destroyers equipped with the powerful radar has always been enough to deter such attacks in the past. The SM-2 interceptor missile fired by the Mason on Wednesday was likely the first combat use seen by the US Navy ever.

That night, the US responded to the missile fire from Houthi-controlled Yemen, and fired a salvo of Tomahawk cruise missiles that obliterated the radar sites that had been active during the attempt on the USS Mason.

The incident, while highly dangerous and destabilizing, proves that the Navy can trust their systems, equipment, and commanders to make the right choice.

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