THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
July 27/16: China has hailed the US deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) batteries to South Korea as harming the “foundation of their trust.” THAAD’s presence on the Korean peninsula as a counter to North Korean nuclear missile testing also caused Chinese officials to warn that the government in South Korea “should think twice about the deployment and value the good momentum of ties between Beijing and Seoul.” Meanwhile, the North moves ahead with the construction of fortified submarine pens for its ballistic missile submarines.
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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