US successfully tests THAAD missile defense system

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted a target today in a missile defense test led by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) with critical support provided by the U.S. Army.

The THAAD system, located at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted a threat representative intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) target. The test was the first IRBM intercept for THAAD.

During the test, designated Flight Test THAAD (FTT)-18, the THAAD radar first detected, acquired and tracked the target. The THAAD system then developed a fire control solution and launched an interceptor that destroyed the target’s reentry vehicle with sheer force of a direct collision.

This test came amid rise in tensions with North Korea over its test launch of an Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense | Credit: Lockheed Martin

“I couldn’t be more proud of the government and contractor team who executed this flight test today,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves in the statement. “This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats.”

“Our THAAD system performed flawlessly in today’s test and we are proud to support the Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army as they demonstrate the system’s unmatched capabilities,” said Richard McDaniel, VP of Upper Tier Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems at Lockheed Martin. “With this successful test, the THAAD system continues to prove its ability to intercept and destroy many classes of the ballistic missile threat to protect citizens, deployed forces, allies and international partners around the globe.”

This was the 14th successful intercept in 14 attempts for the THAAD system since 2005.

File Video of THAAD flight test | Credit: Lockheed Martin

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is an American 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.

The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but uses hit-to-kill technology to neutralize the incoming threat with direct impact. 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.

Originally a US Army program, THAAD has come under the umbrella of the MDA. The US Navy too has a similar program, the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The system is rapidly deployable, mobile and also interoperable with other Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) elements, including Patriot/PAC-3, Aegis, forward-based sensors and the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications system.

THAAD was originally scheduled for deployment in 2012, but initial deployment took place in May 2008.  THAAD is currently deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and South Korea.

The THAAD system is being designed, built, and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems acting as prime contractor. Key subcontractors include Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the Oliver Capital Consortium.

Source: Lockheed Martin



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