Missile Defense Agency Conducts Successful Interceptor “Fly-Out” Test
(Source: US Missile Defense Agency; issued June 27, 2007)
The Missile Defense Agency announced today the successful completion June 26, 2007 of an important test exercise of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The test involved the launch and “fly-out” of a THAAD interceptor missile in a highly-stressing low-endosphere (inside the atmosphere) environment. This was the lowest altitude fly-out of a THAAD interceptor to date, and demonstrated its ability to operate in a high-dynamic pressure environment with aero heating effects. Operating at this point in the battlespace (the distance between the hostile missile launch and the location of the interceptor missile), THAAD fills a gap between the mobile ground-based Patriot PAC-3 and the Aegis/Standard Missile-3 sea-based missile defense in the layered, integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System, providing the warfighter with more robust "defense-in-depth" against short- and medium- range ballistic missiles attacks.

The test, conducted at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, involved the launch and “fly-out” of a THAAD interceptor missile, and an initial review indicated that the planned flight test objectives were achieved. This test did not involve a target, and was a controlled flight test intended to verify missile design and performance in a low-endoatmospheric environment.

This was the final THAAD interceptor mission planned for the White Sands Missile Range, as all future tests will take place at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii.

THAAD is the first weapon system with both endo-atmospheric (inside the atmosphere) and exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) capability developed specifically to defend against short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles. The THAAD system will provide high-altitude missile defense over a larger area than the complementary Patriot system, and, like the Patriot, intercepts a ballistic missile target in the “terminal” phase of flight—the final minute or so when the hostile missile falls toward the earth at the end of its flight. THAAD uses “hit to kill” technology, using only the force of a direct impact with the target to destroy it.

The Ballistic Missile Defense System now in development and testing will be capable of providing a layered defense for the U.S. homeland, its deployed forces, friends and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges in all phases of flight. The higher-altitude and theater-wide protection offered by THAAD provides more protection of larger areas than lower-tier systems like Patriot alone. THAAD can be transported by air to wherever it is needed worldwide, and consists of radar, fire control unit, missile launchers, and interceptor missiles.

The THAAD Program is managed by the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, DC, and executed by the THAAD Project Office in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Corporation is the prime contractor. (ends)




Lockheed Martin's THAAD Weapon System Program Conducts Successful Endo-Atmospheric Interceptor Test Final Flight Test at White Sands Missile Range
(Source: Lockheed Martin; issued June 27, 2007)
DALLAS, TX --- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] conducted a successful low endo-atmospheric test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Weapon System interceptor, at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), NM. Last night's flight test was of the THAAD interceptor only; there was no target.

Preliminary data indicate the THAAD flight test successfully met all objectives including interceptor launch, booster and kill vehicle separation, shroud separation in a low endo-flight environment, kill vehicle control and evaluation of the heating effects on the interceptor mid-body in a low endo-flight environment.

This is the final flight test scheduled to take place at WSMR. Additional flight testing of the THAAD Weapon System is under way at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and will continue there through 2009.

"Last night's test of the THAAD interceptor was the lowest fly-out angle to date, with the interceptor successfully demonstrating its ability to properly operate at the system's minimum altitude," said Tom McGrath, program manager and vice president for THAAD at Lockheed Martin. "We are very grateful to the entire WSMR team for their excellent support of the THAAD flight test program from the mid 1990s to now."

Since November 2005 the THAAD Weapon System program has conducted six successful flight tests, including three tests involving the successful intercept of threat representative targets:

- November 2005 - Successful missile-only flight test
- April 2006 - Successful integration of the entire THAAD Weapon System including launcher, interceptor, radar and fire control system
- July 2006 - Successful seeker characterization flight test including first target intercept
- September 2006 - Flight test designated a 'no-test' when the HERA target malfunctioned and was destroyed by WSMR Range Safety before the interceptor was launched; excellent ground data was acquired
- January 2007 - Successful intercept of a unitary target in THAAD's first flight test at the PMRF
- April 2007 - Successful intercept of a unitary target
- June 2007 - Successful missile-only flight test in low endo-atmosphere

The THAAD flight test program is scheduled to return to PMRF later this year for additional flight testing.

THAAD is designed to defend U.S. troops, allied forces, population centers and critical infrastructure against short- to intermediate range ballistic missiles. THAAD comprises a fire control and communications system, interceptors, launchers and a radar. The THAAD interceptor uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy targets, and is the only weapon system that engages threat ballistic missiles at both endo- and exo-atmospheric altitudes.

A key element of the nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), THAAD is a Missile Defense Agency program, with the program office located in Huntsville, AL. The agency is developing a BMDS to defend the United States, its deployed forces, friends and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight.

Lockheed Martin is a world leader in systems integration and the development of air and missile defense systems and technologies, including the first operational hit-to-kill missile. It also has considerable experience in missile design and production, infrared seekers, command and control/battle management, and communications, precision pointing and tracking optics, as well as radar and signal processing. The company makes significant contributions to all major U.S. missile defense systems and participates in several global missile defense partnerships.


Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

-ends-




prev next

Official reports See all