UNITED STATES - 18 March 2009
The US Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army soldiers from the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas, completed a successful intercept of a ballistic missile target during a test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense element of the US’s Ballistic Missile Defense System March 17 at approximately 2:30 p.m. Hawaii time (8:30 p.m. EDT) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the island of Kauai in Hawaii.
Preliminary indications are that planned flight test objectives were achieved. THAAD is a mobile system now in development designed to intercept short to medium range ballistic missiles.
The military also has Patriot anti-missile batteries to intercept missiles just before they strike.
But the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is designed to protect larger areas than the Patriot system because it intercepts targets at higher altitudes.
Soldiers of the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade conducted launcher, fire control and radar operations, using tactics, techniques and procedures developed by the U.S. Army Air Defense School. The THAAD program is managed by the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, D.C., and executed by the THAAD Project Office in Huntsville, Ala.
THAAD is one of two missile-defense systems the military tests at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. The other is the sea-based Aegis system. The Missile Defense Agency coordinates U.S. missile tests in cooperation with the Army, Navy and Air Force.
The artillery brigade is based in Fort Bliss, Texas.
The THAAD System (USA):
The THAAD interceptor uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy targets, and is the only weapon system that engages threat ballistic missiles at both endo- and exo-atmospheric altitudes. The "kill vehicle" uses an infrared (thermal) imaging seeker, built by BAE Systems, to detect and track the targeted warhead at the terminal phase, when the THAAD is homing in for a 'Hit to Kill' maneuver. The kill vehicle maintains maneuverability using the Divert and Attitude Control System (DACS) supplied by from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR). The system provided roll control of the missile during booster flyout and maneuver of the kill vehicle using small, liquid-fueled thrusters that allow the interceptor to alter direction and attitude.
Another key element in the system is the phased array radar, developed by Raytheon IDS. The THAAD radar is capable of search, threat detection, classification, discrimination and precision tracking at extremely long ranges. This radar acquires the target, discriminates the lethal object from other debris, provides track and discrimination data to the fire control which engages the target and initializes the launch sequence. Target acquisition and tracking are also performed by the interceptor's seeker, through the terminal phase of the flight. The system communicated with the in-flight THAAD interceptor providing target updates during the flight.
PMRF is the world's largest instrumented multi-environment range capable of supporting surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously.