WASHINGTON — The Pentagon successfully conducted a test of its high-grade anti-missile system on Friday, a test using a remote launcher kit that opens the potential for a wide extension of the range of a defended area.
It is the first time the system, known as THADD, was tested from a portable launcher — a critical element in expanding the effectiveness and rapid defensive placement of the highly-regarded anti-missile system.
“With the success of FTT-23 (the designation for today’s test) THAAD will have completed 16 successful intercepts in 16 attempts since current program testing began in 2006 on the operationally-configured interceptor,” Mark Wright, spokesperson for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, told TMN.
THADD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. The U.S. has THADD interceptors in Guam that are configured to help shield against short-, medium- and intermediate-range missile attacks from adversaries such as North Korea.
“The target for this test was a threat-representative medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target which was air-launched over a broad ocean area,” Wright told TMN. “It was intercepted by a THAAD interceptor launched from a THAAD launcher located at the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll.”
Kwajalein Atoll is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
This year the Pentagon also provided deployment of THAAD in South Korea to guard against North Korea’s shorter-range missiles. That placement drew complaints from North Korea and China, the latter claiming the radar that is part of the THADD system is configured to steal secrets from China.
With the end of the intermediate-range nuclear missile test treaty once followed by the U.S. and Russia, there is a chance the THADD system may be deployed to Germany or some other European nation, Pentagon officials told TMN.
THAAD’s success rate in testing is far superior than the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD). The GMD system is focused on shooting down an ICBM headed for the U.S. mainland. That system has about a 55 percent success rate over the life of the program, but has improved in recent tests.
The GMD system is a combination of radars, anti-ballistic missiles and other elements. Advocates have said that the technology has improved dramatically in recent years, with the last tests successful.