US MDA conducts THAAD’s first IRBM intercept flight test


The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has successfully conducted the first intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) intercept test for its terminal high altitude area defence (THAAD) system.

Known as Flight Test THAAD (FTT)-18, the flight was carried out in collaboration with the US Army.

The Lockheed Martin-built THAAD system located at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska detected, tracked and intercepted a threat representative IRBM target launched by Orbital ATK.

Orbital ATK is currently producing 16 launch vehicles for the IRBM target programme, under a $1.4bn contract.

Upon detecting, acquiring and tracking the target, the THAAD system launched an interceptor that destroyed the target's re-entry vehicle, Lockheed Martin stated.

Lockheed Martin Upper Tier Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems vice-president Richard McDaniel said: "Our THAAD system performed flawlessly in today's test and we are proud to support the Missile Defense Agency and US Army as they demonstrate the system's unmatched capabilities.

"The THAAD system continues to prove its ability to intercept and destroy many classes of the ballistic missile threat."

"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."

The latest test was the 14th successful intercept in 14 attempts for the THAAD system since 2005, according to the statement.

Using hit-to-kill technology, the THAAD system can destroy a threat with a direct impact to neutralise lethal threats before they reach protected assets on the ground.

The system is claimed to be interoperable with other ballistic missile defence system (BMDS) elements, including Patriot / PAC-3, Aegis, forward-based sensors and the command, control, battle management and communications system.


Image: THAAD interceptors during a successful intercept test. Photo: courtesy of the US Missile Defense Agency / US Department of Defense.