THAAD weapon system

Lockheed Martin has been awarded an Advanced Capability Development (ACD) follow-on contract to continue development of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system.

The $66m contract modification, awarded by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), is part of the original five-year, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) ACD contract.

The initial contract involved providing three years of engineering technical services including flight test planning, maintenance of laboratory capability, and execution of the US Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) studies and threat assessments.

Lockheed Martin THAAD vice president and programme manager Mat Joyce said the ACD contract allows the company to continue required upgrades to the weapon system and support increasingly difficult flight test missions.

The THAAD programme has successfully completed 12 flight tests, with nine-for-nine intercepts since 2005 and the engineering and manufacturing development phase is expected to complete in late 2012.

The latest operational test was conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, US, by THAAD soldiers from Alpha-4 (A-4), 11th Air Defense Artillery Imperial Brigade of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

The missile successfully intercepted a medium-range target (MRT) launched from a C-17 cargo aircraft and a short-range target (SRT) launched from a mobile platform, during the testing.

Developed by the MDA, the THAAD missile system is designed to intercept and destroy short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles using hit-to-kill technology and is capable of engaging ballistic missiles at both endo- and exo-atmospheric altitudes.

The weapon system consists of launchers, missiles, battle management/command, control, communications and intelligence (BMC3I) units and radars, unlike traditional missiles, it uses kinetic energy to directly hit and destroy the enemy target.

THAAD is a key element of the BMDS and is designed to defend the nation and its deployed forces and allies against ballistic missile threats of all ranges during all phases of flight.

Image: The THAAD missile uses kinetic energy, hit-to-kill technology to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles.