THAAD missile defence system undergoes successful exo-atmospheric interceptor testnews
30 October 2007

Dallas: Lockheed Martin and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) conducted a successful exo-atmospheric test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii. The flight test demonstrated the system's ability to detect, track and intercept an incoming target above the Earth's atmosphere.

Preliminary data indicates the THAAD flight test successfully met all test objectives including demonstrating the successful integration of the radar, launcher, THAAD Fire Control and Communication (TFCC) and interceptor as well as an exo-atmospheric intercept of a unitary target.

The interceptor was conditioned "hot," meaning the interceptor was heated before testing. Hot conditioning demonstrates the interceptor's ability to operate in extreme environments. The remainder of THAAD flight-testing will take place at PMRF through 2009.

"The THAAD Weapon System continues to prove its ability in both endo and exo-atmospheric environments," said Tom McGrath, programme manager and vice president for THAAD at Lockheed Martin. "That's what makes this system so unique. No other missile defence system in the world can destroy tactical ballistic missiles outside and inside the Earth's atmosphere. That flexibility provides greater protection for our war fighters and our allies."

Since November 2005 the THAAD Weapon System program has conducted seven successful flight tests including four tests involving the successful intercept of threat representative targets:

  • November 2005 - Successful missile-only flight test
  • May 2006 - Successful integration of the entire THAAD Weapon System including launcher, interceptor, radar and fire control system
  • July 2006 - Successful seeker characterization flight test including first target intercept
  • September 2006 - Mission designated a 'no-test' when the HERA target malfunctioned and was destroyed by WSMR Range Safety before the interceptor was launched; excellent THAAD ground data was acquired
  • January 2007 - Successful high endo-atmospheric intercept of a unitary target in THAAD's first flight test at the PMRF
  • April 2007 - Successful intercept of a unitary target at lower altitude
  • June 2007 - Successful missile-only flight test in low endo-atmosphere
  • October 2007 - Successful intercept of a unitary target outside the atmosphere.

THAAD is designed to defend US troops, allied forces, population centres and critical infrastructure against short- to intermediate range ballistic missiles. THAAD comprises a fire control and communications system, interceptors, launchers and radar. The THAAD interceptor uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy targets, and THAAD is the only weapon system that engages threat ballistic missiles at both endo- and exo-atmospheric altitudes.

A key element of the nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), THAAD is a Missile Defense Agency programme. The agency is developing a BMDS to defend the United States, its deployed forces, friends and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight.

Lockheed Martin is a world leader in systems integration and the development of air and missile defense systems and technologies, including the first operational hit-to-kill missile. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000 people worldwide.

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THAAD missile defence system undergoes successful exo-atmospheric interceptor test