THAAD thumps ballistic missile

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) Weapon System recently detected and intercepted an incoming ballistic missile target using a BAE Systems-built seeker.


The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) Weapon System detected and intercepted an incoming ballistic missile target using a BAE Systems-built seeker during a recent test firing.



The test was conducted by the US Missile Defense Agency. Lockheed Martin is THAAD prime contractor and systems integrator.



The test examined how the interceptor and its seeker detect an incoming target missile in order to destroy it. BAE Systems’ seeker provides infrared imagery of the targeted warhead to the missile computer for use in guiding the interceptor to its target.



‘This was the second time that the THAAD seeker performed in a successful intercept,’ said John Watkins, BAE Systems’ THAAD program manager in Nashua, New Hampshire.



The first successful intercept by the THAAD weapon system was at White Sands, New Mexico, in July 2006, during a seeker characterisation test. The seeker is said to have met all required parameters, paving the way for additional intercept testing to continue through 2009.



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 missiles, 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.



BAE Systems began work on the THAAD seeker demonstration and validation contract in 1991 and achieved two hit-to-kill intercepts in 1999.



The seeker development program, which started in 2000, is scheduled to conclude in December 2007. A manufacturing contract awarded in December 2006 will lead to first unit equipped in fiscal year 2009.