WASHINGTON-- The United States said Sunday it carried out another successful test of the THAAD missile defense system, as tensions run high over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

The test had been expected to take place this weekend as part of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's routine programs. But Sunday's test came two days after North Korea conducted its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

That missile can reach deep into the U.S. mainland if launched on a standard trajectory, according to experts.

"A medium-range target ballistic missile (MRBM) was air-launched by a U.S. Air Force C-17 over the Pacific Ocean," the MDA said in a news release. "The THAAD weapon system located at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target."

A THAAD interceptor gathered "threat data" during the test flight.

"In addition to successfully intercepting the target, the data collected will allow MDA to enhance the THAAD weapon system, our modeling and simulation capabilities, and our ability to stay ahead of the evolving threat," MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement.

THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is designed to intercept short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their final phase of flight. The last time the U.S. tested THAAD, earlier this month, it said it successfully intercepted an intermediate-range missile target.

"This was the 15th successful intercept in 15 tests for the THAAD weapon system," the MDA said.

South Korea hosts a THAAD battery to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Source: Yonhap News Agency