U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) element provides the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) with a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.


  • Land-based element capable of shooting down a ballistic missile both inside and just outside the atmosphere.
  • Highly effective against the asymmetric ballistic missile threats.
  • Uses hit-to-kill technology whereby kinetic energy destroys the incoming warhead.
  • The high-altitude intercept mitigates effects of enemy weapons of mass destruction before they reach the ground.


  • A THAAD Battery consist of four main components:
    Launcher: Truck-mounted, highly-mobile, able to be stored; interceptors can be fired and rapidly reloaded.
    Interceptors: Eight per launcher.
    Radar: Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) - Largest air-transportable X-band Radar in the world searches, tracks, and discriminates objects and provides updated tracking data to the interceptor.
    Fire Control: Communication and data-management backbone; links THAAD components together; links THAAD to external Command and Control nodes and to the entire BMDS; plans and executes intercept solutions.
  • Rapidly deployable by being globally transportable via air, land and sea.


  • State-of-the-art engineering ensures high standards and efficient production and maintenance.
  • Comprehensive program of ground and flight tests, quality assurance, and design and development activities support mission success.
  • Major events in the THAAD program:
    • Returned to flight test on November 22, 2005 at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico;
    • Completed 12 successful tests, including 10 intercepts, and operationally-realistic tests in March 2009, June 2010, October 2011 and October 2012;
    • Continuing element development to incrementally improve missile defense capability.


  • First two Batteries fielded at Fort Bliss, Texas. Total hardware for Batteries #1 & #2 includes six Launchers, two Fire Control & Communications components, two AN/TPY-2 Radars, and 48 Interceptors. Delivered 50th operational interceptor in 2012.
  • Batteries #3 and #4 hardware began delivery in 2013.
  • Battery #5 on contract in 2012 with delivery and fielding to start in 2014.


  • Activated first three THAAD Batteries in 2008, 2009, and 2012.
  • Received Conditional Materiel Release of two Batteries and transition of operations to the Army in February 2012.
  • New Equipment Training (NET) for Battery #3 began in 2013. NET scheduled for Battery #4 in 2014