29 March 2017
Lockheed Martin to build between 18 and 40 new THAAD missile defense rocket interceptors
By John Keller
Military & Aerospace


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. � Missile defense experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. will build between 18 and 40 missile defense rocket interceptors to protect against incoming ballistic missile threats under terms of a $273.5 million contract announced Tuesday.

Officials of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Huntsville, Ala., are asking the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control segment in Grand Prairie, Texas, to build Lot 9 of the MDA's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile defense system interceptor missiles.

THAAD is designed to shoot down short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill kinetic warhead. The missile relies on the kinetic energy of the impact to destroy the incoming missile.

The system is a key element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system to defend the continental United States, its deployed forces, friends, and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight.

THAAD consists of five major components: launchers, interceptors, a radar, THAAD fire control and communications (TFCC) units, and THAAD-specific support equipment.

Lockheed Martin started developing the THAAD system in 1992, and first tested the system three years later. The first THAAD tests that hit their targets were in 1999, after the first six tests missed. THAAD missiles, which have a maximum range of about 125 miles, are expected to hit incoming ballistic missile warheads as high as 93 miles above the Earth's surface.

THAAD uses an X-Band radar from the Raytheon Co. Integrated Air Defense segment in Andover, Mass. Other key subcontractors are Boeing, Aerojet, Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, and Milton CAT.

Deployment of the THAAD system began in 2008, and is nearing completion. On this contract Lockheed Martin will do the work in Grand Prairie, Texas; Huntsville, Troy, and Anniston, Ala.; and Camden, Ark., and should be finished by March 2020.

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