THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
February 9/16: Following some initial reservations over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, South Korea is to begin talks with the US over installing the system. Fears held by some in Seoul that a THAAD system on the Korean peninsula would anger China seem to have been alleviated by Sunday’s rocket launch by North Korea. The rocket was apparently launched to send a satellite into orbit and follows last month’s nuclear test which has garnered condemnation from the international community. This combination of testing has increased fears of Pyongyang’s development of inter-continental ballistic missile technology. Any THAAD system would be paid for by the US, with one battery costing around $1.3 billion.
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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