THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
March 30/17: Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $273 million contract to produce Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Lot 9 Interceptors for the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA). In addition to Lot 9 Interceptors, the fixed-price agreement also includes one-shot devices and associated production support efforts, and delivery is expected by the end of March 2020. The THAAD system is used to engage incoming ballistic missile attacks and other airborne threats, and has been recently deployed to South Korea as a response to North Korean ballistic missile tests.
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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