The Defense Department announced plans April 3, 2013 to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, or THAAD, ballistic missile defense system to Guam in the coming weeks as a precautionary move to strengthen the regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat. The THAAD system is a land-based missile defense system that includes a truck-mounted launcher, a complement of interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar and an integrated fire control system. This deployment will strengthen defense capabilities for American citizens in the U.S. territory of Guam and U.S. forces stationed there, officials said in a statement announcing the deployment. The United States continued to urge the North Korean leadership to cease provocative threats and choose the path of peace by complying with its international obligations, remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and stands ready to defend U.S. territory, allies and national interests.
The Army certified two of six planned THAAD batteries in fiscal year 2012 for initial operational use. The Army certified that the first two THAAD batteries are safe, suitable, and supportable for Army soldiers to operate. However, the Army will not accept full materiel release of the batteries until additional criteria are completed by MDA. Conditional Materiel Release of the first two THAAD batteries in February 2012 included 39 conditions that need to be resolved before a full materiel release could be granted. The THAAD Project Office and the Army have begun to address these conditions including verification testing of the thermally initiated venting system on the interceptor, electrical stress testing of the optical block in the interceptor flight sequencing assembly, and validation and verification demonstrations of changes and updates to the technical manuals. Four conditions (equipment grounding, air load certification, spares transport shelter, and the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command-Transportation Engineering Agency transportability certification) have been closed. Analyses of data collected during the FTI-01 test are ongoing, which potentially will close eight additional conditions. Fixes and testing of remaining conditions are scheduled through 2017.
THAAD is operationally effective against short-range ballistic missile threats of the types tested through the end of 2012. It has not been demonstrated against medium-range threats. However, empirical data from short-range flight testing, ground testing, and analyses indicate THAAD likely has capability against medium-range threat missiles. THAAD is operationally suitable. Nevertheless, examination of reliability data, ground test results, challenges encountered during testing, and Soldier feedback indicate that THAAD has suitability-related limitations. Adequate availability and maintainability were demonstrated, but testing identified maintenance shortfalls. Different failure modes were seen in two tests creating uncertainty in the Mean Time Between System Abort. Improvements are also needed in deployability, manpower and training, human factors engineering, and interoperability.
Reprioritization of DOD requirements in a constrained budget environment and a congressional funding reduction in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 decreased THAAD's planned interceptor production from six to three per month. The program has been meeting the reduced goal, except for a production gap in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012 due to a faulty memory device in the mission computers of interceptors procured in 2010 and 2011. Program officials reported that this issue has been resolved, and production rates for fiscal year 2012 averaged at least three per month.
Initially, the THAAD program included plans for an early prototype system, called the User Operational Evaluation System, that could be used in a national emergency. The requirement to be able to quickly deploy an early prototype system diverted the contractor and government project management's attention away from the normal interceptor development process and resulted in interceptors that were not equipped with sufficient instruments to provide optimum test data. Because of the requirement for a User Operational Evaluation System, the program used parallel testing to save time rather than best practices, such as a sequential find-and-fix approach.
The THAAD Program was restructured in 1996, though there was a decision to keep the UOES portion of the program on track. DOD planned to be able to deploy an initial limited THAAD UOES capability in the second quarter of FY 1999 should a contingency arise. The final UOES capability would include about 40 missiles and two radars, which will be used for user testing, but which could be maintained in theater if needed.
The Army established a THAAD User Operational Evaluation System battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas, in 1995. The User Operational Evaluation System - an early prototype version of the final THAAD system - was intended to (1) allow military users to influence the THAAD system design, (2) permit an early operational assessment of the system's capabilities, and (3) provide a system that could be deployed in a national emergency. The initial plan called for the prototype system to have 40 interceptors; 4 launchers; 2 radars; 2 battle management/command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence units; and associated support equipment. Except for the interceptors, these components were acquired and delivered to the THAAD battalion under the existing program definition and risk reduction contract at little or no additional cost. Under the initial plan, the 40 interceptors were to be produced after the first successful intercept test at an estimated cost of $225 million.
The fiscal year 1996 National Defense Authorization Act required a contingency capability-THAAD UOES-by fiscal year 1998. UOES will consist of 40 interceptors; 4 launchers; 2 radars; 2 battle management/command, control, and intelligence units; and associated support equipment. The airlift requirement for UOES will be significant. The Army estimated that to transport the full system with 40 interceptors from the United States to a theater of operation will require up to 18 C-5, 26 C-17, or 40 C-141 flights. The Army estimates that a UOES initial force, or "minimum launch capability," including 1 radar, 2 launchers, and 20 interceptors, could be deployed with 7 C-5, 9 C-17, or 13 C-141 flights.
Program Budget Decision (PBD) 224, issued 11 December 1996, increased the THAAD program $722M (FY 98-03) to accelerate the First Unit Equipped milestone from FYO6 to FY04. This increase includes funding for additional UOES testing and the second EMD radar which are necessary for the acceleration of the program. The PBD 224, Change 3, moved procurement funding responsibility from BMDO to the Army. The first year of procurement funds was programmed for FYOl. Following the PBD 224 program increase, project office and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space (LMMS)/Raytheon personnel have been intensely reviewing the FUE FYO4 program structure to ensure the program can be executed at a moderate level of risk.
The Army inactivated the THAAD Battalion on 2 March 2001. Equipment still on hand was maintained by a small detachment of AMD soldiers. The THAAD project office had a plan to advance the schedule of the THAAD program. Developmental Testing is the area that will be primarily affected by the schedule advancement. At that time, the First Unit Equipped remained in 3d Qtr FY07. A new Plan for Missile Design Iteration was scheduled for FY02-04.
Delay in fielding from fiscal year 2002 until 2006 was the result of DOD reducing planned funding by about $2 billion during the fiscal year 1997 budget process. The delay increased total system cost from $16.8 billion to $17.9 billion, or by $1.1 billion. The other revision accompanied DOD's fiscal year 1998 budget request and involved accelerating fielding to fiscal year 2004 by adding a total of $722 million for fiscal years 1998 through 2003.
As of 2007 the Army expected to achieve THAAD initial operational capability in 2009, and initially plan to field two THAAD battalions, each with four batteries. The Army announced that the first two THAAD batteries will be assigned to the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) at Fort Bliss. New equipment training (NET) for key Army personnel is scheduled to begin this year. "Building a unit" is the "name of the game" for the THAAD team as it prepares to integrate Soldiers, equipment and training to form a deployable THAAD combat capability. Each battery will have three launchers, 24 interceptors, an X-Band radar and a TFCC system. The batteries also will have Army standard equipment, such as trucks, individual weapons and generators. Each battery will have four platoons: headquarters and maintenance, launcher, radar, and a fire control and communications platoon. Future plans called for four THAAD battalions that would operate along the US coast or in allied countries.
The one fire unit that was to be handed off to the Army in 2009 for limited operational use was considered to be primarily a test asset. A second was expected to become available during fiscal year 2010. Prior to a production decision, the program office planned to assess production maturity using Baseline Manufacturing Readiness Risk Assessments and Block Process Verification Reviews for assurance of the contractor's readiness to proceed with repeatable processes and quality.
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