Lyles Announces THAAD Program Changes
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
21 July 1998
WASHINGTON -- DoD hopes to overcome a series of failures and get
the Theater High-Altitude Area Defense missile system back on
track for fielding in fiscal 2006, the department's top missile
defense official said July 9.
The Theater High-Altitude Area Defense missile program came
about following U.S. experience in Desert Storm, Air Force Lt.
Gen. Lester Lyles, director of the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization, said at a press conference. The U.S. Patriot
missile system performed well during the war against Iraqi Scud
missiles launched at coalition troops and Israel, but more
needed to be done, he said.
THAAD is part of the Theater Missile Defense system, which also
includes Patriot III, Navy's Theater Wide and Area defense
systems, and the Medium Extended Air Defense System. A Battle
Management/Command, Control and Communications element will tie
together all the parts.
The last five THAAD flight tests failed, but each for different
reasons. A short circuit in the missile's thrust vector control
mechanism caused the most recent failure, on May 12, Lyles said.
He said all other components of the system -- the launcher,
battle management element and the radar -- have worked well.
"THAAD is meant to address a growing threat to our troops,"
Lyles said. "We desperately need to have this capability to
support our warfighters." He told reporters he'd examined
failure analysis records and met with contractor and DoD
"I am confident we will be able to get a capability to support
the troops, and we are trying to make it as close to the
original fielding date as we possibly can," he said.
"However, we're not naive," he said. "Obviously, we realize the
heart of the THAAD is the bullet. [It's] the thing that really
makes missile defense a success and what missile defense is all
about. We're committed to making the THAAD missile work."
Following the May failure, Lyles' office sent a cure notice to
the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp. The notice is a
statement of dissatisfaction with contract performance.
Lockheed Martin replied it intends to change the organization of
the project, and it brought in a troubleshooter to oversee the
test flight program. The company also set up five review teams
to examine all program processes involving quality control,
reliability control, manufacturing, testing and so forth. It
also called on competitor Raytheon Corp. for help in examining
data from the failed tests.
Lyles said his organization and Lockheed Martin are negotiating
arrangements toward sharing costs associated with THAAD missile
tests. He said the next test flight will be sometime in the
"We want to complete all the failure analysis first to make sure
we understand any corrective actions that might be necessary,"
he said. "The bottom line is, we're going to fly when we're
ready to fly."
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