The US and South Korea are in discussions over the possible deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system, in a bid to increase defence capability in Asia.
Part of the US ballistic-missile defence system, the THAAD missile system is designed to intercept and destroy short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles using hit-to-kill technology.
However, China has reportedly voiced objections to the latest move.
US Army Space and Missile Defense Command commander lieutenant general David L. Mann said: "This is a sensitive issue for the partners throughout the region, and we understand the sensitivities that are involved, especially when you look at South Korea is one of the largest trading partners to China in the region.
"That radar and that system is not looking at China. That system, if the decision is made to deploy it, would be oriented on North Korea, quite frankly, and threats posed by the North Korean military. It’s a missile defence capability, to make sure we provide our South Korean partners as well as other partners in the region, with protection."
THAAD defends the US, its deployed forces, and allies against ballistic missile threats during all flight phases.
It is equipped with missile launchers and radars, as well as battle management / command, control, communications and intelligence (BMC3I) units.
The THAAD is said to be the only system capable of engaging ballistic missiles at both endo and exo-atmospheric altitudes, providing versatility for soldiers.
Since 2005, the THAAD development programme has completed 13 flight tests, and has recorded 11 successful intercepts in 11 attempts. The fifth of seven programmed THAAD batteries was activated by the army last year.
Image: Two THAAD interceptors and a Standard-Missile 3 Block IA missile launched in the vicinity of the US Army Kwajalein Atoll/ Reagan Test Site on 10 September 2013. Photo: courtesy of Missile Defense Agency.