Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Commander for United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) expressed confidence in the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) recently deployed to the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s most recent provocation.
“This most recent interception of a Medium Range Ballistic Missile, like the previous one against an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, adds to the confidence I have in the THAAD system deployed to Seongju to defeat the North Korean threats against the Republic of Korea,” said Gen. Brooks.
Last week’s medium-range target ballistic missile was air-launched by a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airlifter over the Pacific Ocean. The THAAD weapon system located at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target.
The test, designated Flight Experiment THAAD (FET)-01, was conducted to gather threat data from a THAAD interceptor in flight.
“After this recent interception, especially given that this is the 15th or 16th successful live interception by THAAD, I do not know why anyone would doubt that it is capable of doing what we intended for it to do by deploying it here to Korea — that is, defeat incoming north Korean ballistic missiles threatening the Republic,” Gen. Brooks said.
According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the THAAD element provides a globally-transportable, rapidly-deployable capability to intercept ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight. THAAD is strictly a defensive weapon system. The system uses hit-to-kill technology where kinetic energy destroys the incoming target.
Soldiers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade conducted launcher, fire control and radar operations using the same procedures they would use in an actual combat scenario.
“I understand some people still doubt that THAAD will work. I am not one of them,” stated Gen. Brooks.
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is a anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach.
THAAD was developed after the experience of Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991. The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but relies on its kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.
Each THAAD system is comprised of five major components: interceptors, launchers, a radar, a fire control unit and support equipment, according to Lockheed Martin, the security and aerospace company that serves as the prime contractor for the equipment. Key subcontractors include Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the Oliver Capital Consortium.
The radar first detects an incoming missile, those manning the system identify the threat then a launcher mounted to a truck fires a projectile, which Lockheed Martin calls an “interceptor,” at the ballistic missile in the hopes of destroying it using kinetic energy — basically just its sheer speed.