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Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

Quick Facts
Mobility Mobile, ground-based
Targets Long-range ballistic missiles
Role Long-range, atmospheric interceptor
Status Interceptors in Qatar, the UAE, and the United States
Producer Lockheed Martin

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 eliminates 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 11 successful tests, including nine intercepts, and operationally-realistic tests in March 2009, June 2010 and October 2011;
    • Continuing element development to incrementally improve missile defense capability.


  • First two Batteries fielded at Fort Bliss, Texas. Total hardware for Battery #1 & #2 include six Launchers, two Fire Control & Communications components, two AN/TPY-2 Radars, and 48 Interceptors. Delivered 50th operational interceptor in June 2012.
  • Batteries #3 and #4 on contract March 2011 with delivery and fielding to start in 2013. 


  • Activated first THAAD Battery in May 2008 and second THAAD Battery in October 2009.
  • Received Conditional Materiel Release of two Batteries and transition of operations to the Army in February 2012.

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