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 consists 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 13 successful tests, including 11 intercepts, and operationally-realistic tests in March 2009, June 2010, October 2011, October 2012, and September 2013;
    • 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.
  • Battery #3 completed delivery in 2013 and Battery #4 completed delivery in 2014.
  • Battery #5 on contract in 2012 with delivery in 2014.
  • Battery #6 con contract in 2014. .


  • Activated first four THAAD batteries in 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2014.
  • 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.

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THAAD October 5, 2011 (4.24 MB WMV*)

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