THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
July 25/17: Alaska’s Kodiak Island could be the site of a further THAAD system launch, conducted less than a month after a previous successful test at the facility. In a notice posted by the US Coast Guard, mariners are advised to remain clear of swaths of ocean between Kodiak Island and Hawaii through the weekend. The launch is expected to take place at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska between 7 p.m. on Jul. 29 and 1:30 a.m. on Jul. 30. THAAD, which currently has a 100 percent success rate in 14 tests, uses a direct hit to intercept a target in its final phase of flight. Batteries of the system have been placed in Guam and South Korea to counter missile threats from North Korea.
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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