THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
August 19/22: Saudi Arabia According to Jane’s, the first four sites for Saudi Arabia’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems are expected to be completed by the end of 2026 and all seven by April 2028. A Request For Proposal by the US Army gave the estimate completion date for a storage facility for THAAD ballistic missile interceptions at Al Kharj as January 2025. The THAAD terminal (formerly theatre) high-altitude area defence missile system is an easily transportable defensive weapon system. It uses hit-to-kill technology whereby kinetic energy destroys the incoming warhead.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is a long-range, land-based theater defense weapon that acts as the upper tier of a basic 2-tiered defense against ballistic missiles. It’s designed to intercept missiles during late mid-course or final stage flight, flying at high altitudes within and even outside the atmosphere. This allows it to provide broad area coverage against threats to critical assets such as population centers and industrial resources as well as military forces, hence its previous “theater (of operations) high altitude area defense” designation.
This capability makes THAAD different from a Patriot PAC-3 or the future MEADS system, which are point defense options with limited range that are designed to hit a missile or warhead just before impact. The SM-3 Standard missile is a far better comparison, and land-based SM-3 programs will make it a direct THAAD competitor. So far, both programs remain underway.
The THAAD System
The THAAD Program
THAAD: Schedules and Tests
THAAD: Budgets and Exports
Contracts and Key Events
FY 2006 and Earlier
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: THAAD System
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