THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
September 4/19: Missile Defense Test Lockheed Martin announced that its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target on August 30 in a missile defense test. The test was led by the US Missile Defense Agency with support provided by the US Army. During the test, the THAAD system located at US Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands successfully detected, tracked and intercepted a threat representative target using a THAAD launcher that was positioned at distance from the other THAAD end items, the company said. The THAAD system, made by Lockheed Martin, is designed to intercept threats from inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere. It has had 16 consecutive successful launches and interceptions, but the test early Friday demonstrated the capability of engaging the system remotely with a government-developed remote launcher kit.
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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