Dear Members and Friends,
Last week in El Paso, Texas at Fort Bliss, the second THAAD battery and its 99 United States Army Soldiers were activated. The THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is an integral part of a layered missile defense system that our President, the Secretary of Defense and U.S. Congress fully endorse and is part of the “new missile defense architecture” for the protection of our deployed troops overseas and allies.
This unique system intercepts in a transitional area between earth’s atmosphere and space to include a range of 20 miles below and above the 62 mile or 100 kilometer line. None of the current or future deployed missile defense systems intercept in this vertical space. Because of this vertical engagement area capability, the THAAD system can take multiple shots and use the atmosphere to strip off debris and countermeasures to better target the incoming warhead. The larger land-based missile defense system, the GBIs as well as the sea-based missile defense system, the Aegis and SM-3, intercept above the 100k line at a higher altitudes in space, while the Patriot System ground-based system intercepts missiles in air below the atmosphere.
Applying all of these defensive systems creates a “layered defense” which makes it very challenging to the calculus of an attacker to have confidence in an offensive ballistic missile being successful. A “layered defense” provides multiple defensive shots with the ability to look each time before shooting again, thus through multiple-shot doctrines and redundancy creates very high successful probabilities in the capability to defend an area from ballistic missiles. This deployed military concept and tactic further de-incentivizes the attacker from investing in ballistic missiles as well as creates extreme technical challenges to build countermeasures to defeat a “layered defense”.
The THAAD battery consists of about 24 interceptors housed in three mobile launchers, supported by a THAAD mobile X-Band radar (AN-TPY-2), four 5-ton trucks for fire control and communications that will be operated and maintained by these 99 US army soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas. The system is land-mobile and can be transported quickly by C-17s or C-5s anywhere on the globe. This THAAD activation is the second of seven that are currently planned over the next few years. The US Army could require up to 13 THAAD batteries, as forthcoming Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Office (JTAMBO) studies may request in the future. The United States Congress has approved the sale of three THAAD Batteries for foreign sales to United Arab Emirates. Countries in the Middle East and in East Asia such as Japan are interested in acquiring this system to complement their existing missile defense systems to add another layer of defense.
It is to be noted, that the President Obama’s “new missile defense architecture” requires multiple sea- and land-based Aegis SM-3 missile defense systems deployed in and around Europe for a space engagement intercept layer of defense against the proliferation of short- to medium-range missiles. Multiple THAAD deployed batteries would need to supplement all of those Aegis Systems in Europe to give our allies and troops based there the most effective and practical protection. The United States, NATO and our allies must pursue and deploy this capability to provide the necessary protection against the ballistic missile threat they are most concerned about.
“In sum, there has been an increase of over 1,200 additional ballistic missiles over the past 5 years, bringing the total of ballistic missiles outside the U.S., NATO, Russia and China to over 5,900 (with SRBMs making up 93% of this total and MRBMs making up 6%), with hundreds of launchers and missiles within the range of our deployed forces today (with SRBM launchers making up 91% of this total and MRBM launchers making up 9%).”
– Lt. Gen. Pat O’Rielly, Director MDA, 6-16-09
Next month, a U.S.THAAD unit with its soldiers will be used in joint exercises in Israel and will be an essential part of a defensive system to defend Israel from ballistic missiles. The following month in December of this year THAAD will test its 11th flight test against a complex target in Kauai, Hawaii at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF). THAAD is currently six out six in successful intercept tests.
We congratulate and greatly appreciate the service of the 99 soldiers in the 11th Air Defense Brigade of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command for making our forward deployed troops overseas and our allies safer.