The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $74 million to produce the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system for the US government. This contract covers the production of an eighth THAAD battery, which is expected to be fielded by 2025.
THAAD is a highly effective, combat-proven defence system that can intercept and destroy short, medium and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats in both the endo- and exo-atmosphere. THAAD uses Hit-to-Kill technology, which means it destroys the incoming warhead by a direct impact, neutralizing its lethal payload before it reaches the ground.
THAAD is one of the key components of the US integrated air and missile defence system, which also includes the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) systems. Together, these systems provide a layered defence against various types of missile threats.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and systems integrator for THAAD, while Raytheon provides the radar, Aerojet Rocketdyne provides the booster, and Boeing provides the interceptor. The US Army activated the first THAAD battery in May 2008. Since then, seven more batteries have been deployed in various locations around the world, including Guam, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
THAAD has a perfect record of 16 successful intercepts in 16 flight tests since 2005. The most recent test was conducted in November 2020, when THAAD successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target using a remote launcher operated by soldiers from Alpha Battery, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.
According to Dan Nimblett, Vice President of Upper Tier Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, “This award demonstrates the US government’s continued confidence in the THAAD weapon system and in its unique endo- and exo-atmospheric defence capability. With 16 of 16 successful flight test intercepts and recent combat success clearly documenting the effectiveness of THAAD, adding an eighth battery will further enhance readiness against existing and evolving ballistic missile threats.”
THAAD is also undergoing continuous capability improvements to keep pace with the changing threat environment. For example, Lockheed Martin recently integrated its THAAD and PAC-3 systems to increase their interoperability and enhance their performance against complex threats.
THAAD is a vital element of the US national security strategy and a key contributor to global stability and peace. By providing a reliable and robust defence against missile attacks, THAAD helps protect US forces, allies and partners from harm and deter aggression from potential adversaries.