THAAD successfully fired Patriot’s PAC-3 MSE missile using AN/TPY-2

WASHINGTON — At the end of February this year, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency [MDA] conducted a test in which the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System [THAAD] successfully launched the latest and most modern missile of the Patriot air defense system – PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin announced the test, announcing that it took place at the White Sands missile range, New Mexico. reminds us that Lockheed Martin is the manufacturer of both the PAC-3 MSE rocket and the THAAD system.

THAAD successfully fired Patriot's PAC-3 MSE missile using AN/TPY-2
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

According to Scott Arnold, vice president of integrated air and missile defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, the U.S. military used an incoming target during the test. After being intercepted, THAAD launched the PAC-3 MSE missile, which flew over to the specified interception point and self-destructed. Arnold says that was the plan.

The test is a major step forward in the country’s air defense, as it has shown that the Pentagon already has “critical multi-level missile defense capabilities.” According to Arnold, the compatibility of THAAD and PAC-3 MSE takes missile defense to the next level, protecting the skies over the United States from current known and “future emerging threats.”

“With this successful demonstration, the Patriot M903 Launching Stations and PAC-3 MSE interceptors can be deployed with the THAAD Weapon System using only the THAAD radar and TFCC [Fire Control & Communication] for support,” Arnold explained.

AN / TPY-2 and PAC-3 MSE

The integration of THAAD and Patriot is a process that began years ago in response to tensions between South and North Korea. The Americans wanted to allow the Korean Peninsula to increase the area of ​​defense coverage. The MDA sought flexibility and mobility for the defense forces stationed there. Now that the test has been successful, the United States can intercept at high and low levels while expanding its combat space.

At the test site in New Mexico, the MDA and the US Army conducted another test. He detected and tracked the THAAD’s AN / TPY-2 radar system, then gave a command to the Patriot system, which then fired a PAC-3 MSE to destroy the target. Ie The MDA eliminated the need for a Patriot fire control system using only the missile launcher.

Saudi Arabia will produce THAAD's missile launchers and canisters
Photo credit: Raytheon

The latest test is critical to US air defense. The THAAD AN / TPY-2 radar can see very far from that of the Patriot system. Ie using the full operational capability and altitude of the PAC-3 MSE missile, AN / TPY-2 warns of the threat much earlier.

“We’re wrapping up that urgent operational need and we’ll get that out the door soon,” Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA director, said March 9 at the McAleese & Associates defense conference in Washington. “We’re pretty stoked about that.”

High Altitude Area Defense Terminal (THAAD)

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] is an anti-ballistic missile system developed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Entered service in the United States in 2008. From then until today THAAD continues to be produced and sold successfully. In addition to the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are its operators and use it to protect their airspace from medium-range and short-range missiles.

Although the system is many years old, it was only in January this year that it managed to make the first documented interception of a ballistic missile that was launched by the Yemeni Hutus in the UAE.

The THAAD rocket weighs 900 kilograms and is powered by a single-stage Pratt & Whitney solid-fueled engine. The operational distance that can reach and hit a target is 200 km. It can fly at an altitude of up to 150 km, and the maximum speed of the THAAD missile that can be reached is Mach 8 or 10,000 km / h.

The missile has an indium-antimonide imaging infra-red seeker head, and the entire missile system is transported by a transporter erector launcher [TEL], which means a missile vehicle with an integrated prime mover [tractor unit].

UAE has used THAAD's 'hit-to-kill approach' against missiles and UAVs
Photo credit: Quora

THAAD uses AN / TPY-2 Army Navy / Transportable Radar. It operates in the X-band of the electromagnetic spectrum. This enables it to see targets more clearly and distinguish between an actual menace and non-threats, like launch debris. AN / TPY-2 can operate in two modes: forward-based mode and Terminal mode.

In Forward-based mode, the radar detects ballistic missiles after they are launched. In Terminal mode, the radar helps guide interceptors toward a descending missile to defeat the threat.


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