The Right Test at the Right Time

July 12, 2006

It is symbolic that the birthplace of the world most dangerous weapon ever invented – the atomic bomb – is the same location of today’s successful missile defense test that could lead to the future to eradication of nuclear weapons carried on ballistic missiles.

This morning, MDAA was able to witness the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) intercept test at White Sands Missile Range in the state of New Mexico. THAAD is a non-explosive kinetic energy interceptor that uses a infra-red seeker (heat seeking) and receives updates by its radar to intercepts its targets in the terminal phase of a ballistic missile track. These interceptions take place at the upper atmosphere (endo) and/or in space (exo) 60-80 miles up. The velocity of the THAAD interceptor is greater then its target -the short and medium range missile. The THAAD complete fire unit consists of 24 missiles, three launchers, a radar system and a command and control center. The THAAD is land based and mobile as well as can be fitted into C-17 military cargo planes and transported anywhere in the world. This terminal phase system complements and integrates with our mid-course missile defense systems as well as our current deployed PAC-3 and PAC-2 missile defense units.

The successful test occurred at about 5:20 a.m. -.just before a spectacular sunrise over the Organ Mountain range in the high desert of New Mexico. It was a live intercept of the THAAD interceptor against a Hera target traveling at speeds of up to 6,000 mph (simulating a Scud missile) that lit up the desert skies.

Today’s successful kinetic energy intercept by the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense along with our recent SM-3 successful intercept flight tests sends a distinct message to our public – and the world including North Korea – that we have the proven ability to intercept both Scud missiles as well as those of short and medium ranges. This proven and demonstrated system has the capability of negating and destroying six of the seven missiles fired last week by North Korea while protecting significant populations. Three of these THAAD systems could protect the country of Japan.

Proving, testing, and deploying our missile defense systems such as THAAD and the SM-3 Sea-Based Defense deters and dissuades those countries and entities posing a threat to us from developing and using ballistic missiles as weapons of terror and extortion.

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Curtis Stiles - Chief of Staff