THAAD Defense System

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Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase (descent or reentry) 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 the warhead of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate on a kinetic-energy hit.


THAAD Defense System
Originally a United States Army program, THAAD has come under the umbrella of the Missile Defense Agency. The Navy has a similar program, the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which now has a land component as well ("Aegis ashore"). THAAD was originally scheduled for deployment in 2012, but initial deployment took place in May 2008. THAAD has been deployed in Guam, the United Arab Emirates, and South Korea.

The vulnerability and lethality analyses of the THAAD have been conducted by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL). The vulnerability assessment for the THAAD featured an evaluation of the effects of major electromagnetic elements. This included EM interference, EM radiation operations, EM radiation hazards, EM pulse, electrostatic discharge, and lightning effects on components of the THAAD system.


The ARL assessments were designed to determine the THAAD system’s growth potential given its tactical design as well as provide survivability analysis against threats such as conventional weapons, chemical weapons, and electronic warfare countermeasures. The data collected from the analyses were used to develop trajectory models for targets and missile as well as target trajectories using IR scene generation of infrared countermeasures (IRCMs).

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, and MiltonCAT. More details