MANA — The Missile Defense Agency completed a successful hit-to-kill intercept yesterday using the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
The separating target, representing a threat ballistic missile, was launched from an Air Force aircraft flying over the Pacific at 4:16 p.m. About six minutes later, the interceptor missile was launched from the mobile, land-based THAAD system at the range facility.
The intercept occurred inside the Earth’s atmosphere.
This was the 35th successful hit-to-kill intercept of 43 attempts in the atmosphere and in space since 2001. The success rate in the later years of the program has been much higher, with 29 of the 30 tests conducted since 2005 having been successful.
This was the fifth successful intercept for the current THAAD program in five attempts.
Riki Ellison, president and founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said yet another success allows the United States to move toward a regional strategic evolution for missile defense.
“This infusion of proven layered mobile missile defense systems protects and dissuades those that threaten both the civilian populations and military forces in the respective regions,” Ellison said.
The primary objective of the test was to locate, track and intercept the target using THAAD’s software.
The ability of soldiers to conduct launcher, fire control and radar operations was also observed. Soldiers, for the first time in a THAAD test, manually engaged the target using the systems semi-automatic mode. Soldiers operating the equipment were not aware of actual target launch time.
All of these factors provided increased operational realism to the test, according to the Missile Defense Agency.
The U.S. Navy cruiser USS Lake Erie received a tracking cue from THAAD and used its advanced SPY-1 radar to successfully track the target, conducting a simulated Standard Missile-3 interceptor missile launch to engage it.
The Ballistic Missile Defense System is designed to provide a layered defense for the U.S. and its deployed forces, friends and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges in all phases of flight. The higher-altitude and theater-wide protection offered by THAAD provides more protection of larger areas than lower-tier systems such as the Patriot. THAAD can be transported by air to wherever it is needed worldwide, and consists of radar, fire control unit, missile launchers, and interceptor missiles.
“The world needs non-escalatory and non-lethal missile defense systems like what was demonstrated (yesterday) to provide global counter-proliferation and protection from those with intentions to threaten or harm with ballistic missiles,” Ellison said.
The THAAD Program is managed by the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, D.C., and executed by the THAAD Project Office in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Corp. is the prime contractor.