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THAAD Passes Radar Data Collection Flight Test: MDA

By | March 12, 2007

      The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system completed a radar data collection flight test last week, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) reported.

      A short range target missile was launched from a C-17 aircraft over the Pacific Ocean by having a parachute pull the target missile from the rear of the transport plane.

      That occurred about 400 miles west of the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

      The target missile rocket motor ignited, sending it on a planned trajectory over the Pacific, where it was tracked by the THAAD radar, now designated as Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance, or AN/TPY-2.

      Preliminary indications are that all radar data collection objectives were met, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

      The AN/TPY-2 operates in the X-band frequency, and is capable of tracking and identifying small objects at long distance and at very high altitude, including space.

      Air-launched targets provide the capability to structure target missile trajectories during flight tests so that they are able to better replicate potential trajectories that hostile ballistic missiles could use during an attack on the United States, its deployed forces or allies and friends.

      The THAAD element will provide upper-tier defense against enemy ballistic missiles during their terminal, or final, phase of flight.

      THAAD is part of the multi-layered ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. Other components such as the Airborne Laser focus on enemy missiles in their boost, or initial, trajectory just after launch, while still other systems focus on enemy missiles in their mid-course or terminal phases of flight.

      This is just one further success in a series of mostly winning tests for various types of BMD systems over the past several months, including tests where target missiles were destroyed.

      Some of the other components include the Kinetic Energy Interceptor with its hit-to-kill capability, the Aegis sea-based system, and the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system based in Alaska and California.

      MDA has hastened development of BMD systems as potential threats have multiplied.

      For example, those potential threats have included North Korea firing a series of test missiles in July and testing a nuclear weapon underground in October; Iran firing a missile from a submerged submarine and later announcing that it is developing a missile capable of placing a satellite in space (the same capability required to build an intercontinental ballistic missile); and China using a missile to shoot down one of its own satellites, creating fears that China can now target U.S. military, commercial, weather and other space assets.

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