THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
November 1/17: Relations between China and South Korea are set to normalise following a year-long dispute over the US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean peninsula. Korean firms operating in China, Chinese tourism to South Korea, and even K-Pop and television stars have all suffered from a boycott led by Beijing, which the Bank of Korea claim knocked about 0.4 percentage points off this year’s expected economic growth. Lotte Group, the sprawling chaebol whose land was chosen as the site for THAAD’s deployment was hardest hit, after its hypermarket and hotels in China faced severe sanctions. An agreement reached between the two will see both country’s leaders meet on the sidelines of the summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam, scheduled for November 10-11. The detente comes just days before US President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia—a visit that has seen three US carrier strike groups assemble in the Pacific.
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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