Nashua, USA: BAE Systems has received a $62.3 million contract from Lockheed Martin Corp to begin production of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Interceptor Seeker. The seeker provides infrared imagery of the targeted warhead to the missile to guide the interceptor to its target.
The first THAAD systems will be fielded in fiscal 2009 and ready for worldwide deployment in fiscal 2010.
Lockheed Martin is THAAD prime contractor and systems integrator.
Assembly, integration, and testing of production equipment will take place at BAE Systems facilities in Nashua, New Hampshire; Lexington, Massachusetts; and Johnson City, New York.
According to Mat Joyce, Lockheed Martin vice president and THAAD programme manager. "Once fielded, THAAD will network with other systems and sensors to provide the layered missile defense capability required for the future."
THAAD is designed to defend US and allied soldiers, military assets, and population centres from the threat of ballistic missile attacks. To achieve the lethality required to defeat ballistic missile warheads, THAAD destroys them through direct "hit-to-kill" targeting.
"Hit to kill" technology uses direct collision of the interceptor missile with the target, destroying the target using only kinetic energy from the force of the collision. (See: India crosses the threshold)
BAE Systems achieved the first hit-to-kill intercept of a ballistic missile target in 1984. The company started work on the THAAD seeker demonstration and validation contract in 1991 and achieved two hit-to-kill intercepts in 1999. The seeker development program, begun in 2000, is scheduled to conclude in 2007.
BAE Systems is a global defense and aerospace company, with 88,000 employees worldwide, and with 2006 sales that exceeded US$25 billion.