THAAD missile system has China and North Korea spooked

thaad-missile-lockheed-martin-1

Lockheed Martin

The most advanced missile system on the planet can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky with a 100% success rate — and we got to spend a day with it.

Meet the US’s THAAD system.

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is a unique missile-defense system with unmatched precision, capable of countering threats around the world with its mobility and strategic battery-unit placement.

“It is the most technically advanced missile-defense system in the world,” US Army Col. Alan Wiernicki, commander of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, told Business Insider in an interview.

“Combatant commanders and our allies know this, which puts our THAAD Batteries in very high global demand,” Wiernicki added.

And that demand seems poised to rise.

Deploying America’s THAAD

AiirSource Military | YouTube

AiirSource Military | YouTube

On Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed his country had developed miniaturized nuclear warheads, which can be mounted to long-range ballistic missiles.

The rogue regime’s latest announcement is a follow-through pass to last month’s long-range-rocket launch and January’s purported hydrogen-bomb test.

Negotiations to equip South Korea with THAAD have been ongoing since South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s October 2015visit to the White House.

As of yet, there has not been a formal move to deploy the missile system.

“The complexity of global-security challenges is increasingly causing combatant commanders to request more Army forces,” US Army Capt. Gus Cunningham told Business Insider.

“With that said, THAAD is ready to respond to any request, at any time,” Cunningham added.

If a THAAD battery were deployed to South Korea, depending on its exact location, nearly all incoming missiles from the North could be eliminated, as displayed by the following graphic from The Heritage Foundation.

Heritage.org

Heritage.org

Meanwhile, China is spooked over the potential THAAD assignment to South Korea.

Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong warned that basing the US-made THAAD missile system in South Korea would irreparably damage relations between the countries, The Chosunilbo reported.

THAAD deployment, Qiu said, “would break the strategic balance in the region and create a vicious cycle of Cold War-style confrontations and an arms race, which could escalate tensions.”

During his most recent visit to Beijing, Secretary of State John Kerry explained that the US was “not hungry or anxious or looking for an opportunity to deploy THAAD,” CNN reported.

“THAAD is a purely defensive weapon. It is purely capable of shooting down a ballistic missile it intercepts. And it is there for the protection of the United States,” Kerry said.

“If we can get to denuclearization, there’s no need to deploy THAAD,” he added.

How THAAD’s ‘hit to kill’ lethality works

YouTube

USMDA | YouTube

Currently, there five THAAD batteries — each of approximately 100 soldiers — assigned to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

One of those THAAD batteries was deployed to Guam in April 2013 in order to deter North Korean provocations and further defend the Pacific region.

Impressively, the THAAD interceptor does not carry a warhead. Instead, the interceptor missile uses pure kinetic energy to deliver “hit to kill” strikes to incoming ballistic threats inside or outside the atmosphere.

Each launcher carries up to eight missiles and can send multiple kill vehicles at once, depending on the severity of the threat.

Lockheed Martin’s missile launcher is just one element of the four-part antimissile system. The graphic below shows the rest of the components needed for each enemy-target interception.

thaad missiles

Photo: Raytheon

THAAD’s first line of defense is its radar system.

“We have one of the most powerful radars in the world,” US Army Capt. Kyle Terza, a THAAD battery commander, told Business Insider.

Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar is used to detect, track, and discriminate ballistic missiles in the terminal (or descent) phase of flight.

The mobile radar is about the size of a bus and is so powerful that it can scan areas the size of entire countries, according to Raytheon.

Raytheon_AN:TPY-2_radar

Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar | Raytheon

Once an enemy threat has been identified, THAAD’s Fire Control and Communications (TFCC) support team kicks in. If there is a decision to engage the incoming missile, the launcher fires an interceptor to hunt for its target.

Here’s what the launch looks like from far away:

YouTube

BMDA | YouTube

While in flight, the interceptor will track its target and obliterate it in the sky.

The following infrared imagery shows THAAD demolishing the target:

USMDA | YouTube

USMDA | YouTube

By the end of 2016, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is scheduled to deliver an additional 48 THAAD interceptors to the US military, bringing the total up to 155, according to a statement from the MDA’s director, Vice Admiral J.D. Syring, given before the House Armed Service Committee.

According to the MDA, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of US, NATO, Russian, and Chinese control.

While other US partners around the globe are interested in purchasing THAAD, the United Arab Emirates is the sole foreign buyer after signing a deal with the Department of Defense for $3.4 billion.

TOP ARTICLES
These are the military traditions for deployed troops celebrating Thanksgiving

While you're deployed, weekends aren't really a thing — neither are most holidays. Thanksgiving, however, is a moment when the military slows down.

Forget multitasking, this Navy squadron has only one mission — rescue people

The Navy has an entire squadron for search and rescue, and it is the only squadron in the Navy that has an advance life-support helicopter platform.

How the Coast Guard intercepts half a million pounds of cocaine

For the last couple decades, the Coast Guard has pushed out further, taking more aggressive stabs at the flow of drugs that make their way into the U.S.

More remains of Special Forces soldier found in Niger

The Department of Defense announced that military investigators found additional remains that they have positively ID'd as Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

'Butcher of of Bosnia' sentenced to life in prison for genocide

"The Butcher of Bosnia" was handed a life sentence on November 22nd, 2017, for war crimes and the slaughter of 8,000 men and young children.

New engravings on the USMC War Memorial honor Iraq and Afghanistan Marines

On Nov. 22, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial was updated to include Afghanistan and Iraq in the list of campaigns that runs along the memorial's base.

ISIS may focus on a virtual caliphate after losing real-world war

As the Islamic State loses the in real life war they've waged against the world, they've moved their game online- waging war in the virtual world.

Everything you need to know about Zimbabwe's ousted dictator

The dictator of Zimbabwe announced his resignation on Nov. 21, 2017 after the county's army took of the capital and family, forcing the resignation.

Watch this Marine get pinned by his 3-year-old son

Watch this adorable little boy steal into the hearts of all the Marines and civilians present as he promotes his dad and pins on his promoted rank.

Watch a North Korean defector dodging bullets to cross the DMZ

A North Korean attempting to defect to the South, who was found to be full of parasites, was shot by his fellow soldiers. We Are the Mighty has the video.