THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles
June 19/17: China has demanded that it be allowed to conduct on-site inspections of the US THAAD battery deployed to South Korea. An anonymous source said that Beijing is making the demand via various channels and the purpose of the inspection is to determine if the AN/TPY-2 radar used on the system can spy on Chinese activities. The radar can utilize a “forward-based mode” capable of detecting targets 1,800 km away as well as a “terminal mode” that can track missiles from 600 to 800 km away, and while Washington maintains that the THAAD located in South Korea is set to the terminal mode, China is looking to verify this for itself.
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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