THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
November 28/16: Following in the footsteps of neighboring South Korea, Japan is considering the potential deployment of the THAAD system as they look to better protect themselves from North Korean nuclear threats. While no concrete plans are yet in place to deploy THAAD, military officials are looking at the option of beefing up defense capabilities and are “considering what can be done.” At present, Japan’s missile defense system involves on ship-based SM-3 interceptors to target missiles in space and land-based PAC-3 batteries to intercept rockets flying closer to the ground. While this had been deemed sufficient measures, Pyongyang’s increased ballistic missile testings have moved the procurement of a more long-range system onto the agenda.
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
Fill in the secure form below to activate your subscription right away (or pick another plan)