BAE Systems awarded THAAD contract

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BAE Systems has received a $62.3m contract from Lockheed Martin to begin production of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Interceptor Seeker.

According to BAE Systems, 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 2009 and ready for worldwide deployment in 2010.

‘Once fielded, THAAD will network with other systems and sensors to provide the layered missile defence capability required for the future,’ said Mat Joyce, Lockheed Martin vice president and THAAD program manager.

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.

Lockheed Martin is THAAD prime contractor and systems integrator. 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.

BAE Systems began work on seekers for missile defence in the late 1970s and 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.