The international Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) completed its first flight test Nov. 17 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., demonstrating its ability to engage a simulated target attacking from the rear.

During the test, a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor executed the maneuver necessary to hit its target, and then self destruct. Lockheed Martin, the lead U.S. contractor on the program, said in a press release. MEADS is a joint effort of the United States, Italy and Germany.

The previously untested maneuver is necessary for protecting soldiers and other assets from highly maneuverable cruise missiles and short- to medium-range tactical ballistic missiles. Two MEADS flight tests against actual missile targets are planned, after which the United States plans to end its participation in the program.