THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
September 08/17: South Korea and the US military have completed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system on the Korean peninsula amid violent anti-THAAD protests near the system’s deployment site. Located on a golf course—formally owned by South Korean chaebol Lotte Group—in the southern city of Seongju, as many as 8,000 police officers were deployed early Monday to break up a blockade of around 300 villagers and civic groups opposed to THAAD, and subsequent clashes resulted in 38 wounded although non fatal. Despite the protests, South Korea’s defense ministry has said the deployment is necessary due to the imminent threat from North Korea, which has launched numerous missiles since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in early May.
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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