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THAAD Testing - Demonstration / Validation

Pressure on the THAAD program to meet an early fielding date nearly resulted in the program's cancelation in 1998. When flight testing began, in 1995, the THAAD missile experienced numerous problems. Eight of the first nine flight tests revealed problems with software errors, booster separation, seeker electronics, flight controls, electrical short circuits, foreign object damage, and loss of telemetry. According to several expert reviews from both inside and outside the Army, the causes of early THAAD flight test failures included inadequate ground testing, poor test planning, and shortcomings in preflight reviews. One study noted that failures were found in subsystems usually considered low-risk. Subsequently, the THAAD program manager adopted a knowledge-based strategy, which led to successes in later tests.

  1. In FTV-01 on 21 April 1995 the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile made its first flight on the White Sands Missile Range.
  2. In FT-02, on 21 July 1995
  3. In FT-03, on 13 October 1995
  4. In FT-04, on 13 December 1995 - test flights 4 and 5 were the first two tests designed for target intercept.
  5. In FT-05, test flights 4 and 5 were the first two tests designed for target intercept.
  6. In FT-06, o
  7. In FT-07, on 06 March 1997 a Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile attempted to hit a target ballistic missile in a test at White Sands Missile Range, NM. An intercept was not achieved. The THAAD interceptor and target debris landed on the White Sands Missile Range as was planned in the event of a miss. The test, the seventh THAAD missile flight, was another in a continuing series to verify the THAAD design and the performance of the prototype system components. Due to flight test 07 (FT-07) anomalies preliminary analyses indicate that FUE slipped to 1st Qtr, FYO5. Project office personnel held discussions with the user about the feasibility of refining the definition of FUE. After the system failed the fourth attempt to intercept its target in March 1997, the Director, BMDO, established two independent teams to assess program requirements. One team was to determine if the system design can meet warfighter needs; and the other team was to evaluate the interceptor design and quality assurance.
  8. In FT-08, in May 1998. After the fifth successive test failure , DOD restructured the THAAD program. The restructured program addresses each of the four underlying problems. However, because most interceptor components were produced before DOD restructured the program, their reliability remains a concern for future tests.
  9. In FT-09, on 29 March 1999 the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) and the US Army announced that a Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor did not achieve intercept of a Hera missile target in a flight test at the White Sands Missile Range, NM. This time the interceptor came close -- possibly within 30 meters of its target Hera missile. But for the ninth time, the THAAD failed to hit its target. It failed the critical intercept test because a thruster nozzle blew off in flight. Each failure of the THAAD costs the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, $15 million in contract-imposed penalties. The flight did, however, provide additional data that will be usable in future development of theater missile defense systems. The test occurred at 7:13 a.m. (EST) in the morning. The test occurred at high altitude over the central portion of the White Sands National Missile Range. The Hera target, which simulated a Scud ballistic missile such as those seen during Operation Desert Storm, was launched seven minutes before the intercept test. The test was the ninth in a planned series of THAAD Program Definition and Risk Reduction (PDRR) flight tests to verify the THAAD prototype design and performance of the system components. The contractor cure notice agreement that was initiated as a result of the previous failed intercept in the THAAD program required a body-to-body actual intercept on flight test nine. The failure to do so imposed a penalty of $15 million on Lockheed Martin. Lockheed will not bill the Government for $15 million worth of effort under this particular contract as a result of this particular milestone or lack of a milestone.
  10. In FT-10 on 10 June 1999 the THAAD upper-tier missile defense system performed its first successful intercept test of a ballistic re-entry vehicle. THAAD is required to intercept targets both inside and outside the atmosphere and under a variety of conditions, such as when targets employ countermeasures. The June 1999 intercept was in the higher regions of the atmosphere and the target did not use countermeasures. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) and the U.S. Army had planned to intercept a target ballistic missile in a flight test initially scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, 1999, at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), NM. The THAAD missile was not launched in the May mission due to an anomaly with the Hera target missile. This was to be the 10th test in a series of 13 flight tests currently planned in the Program Definition and Risk Reduction phase of the development of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. The THAAD interceptor upper stage kill vehicle hit and destroy edthe target. The flight tests were intended to verify the design and performance of the prototype THAAD system components. This was the sixth flight test in which all the THAAD prototype components have participated. The THAAD radar functioned as the primary target and interceptor tracking sensor and will communicate in-flight target updates to the interceptor. The mobile Battle Management/Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence (BM/C3I) system developed the target intercept engagement solutions for the interceptor. The THAAD Palletized Load System design launcher launched the interceptor. The next milestone for the cure notice was a requirement for two successful hits achieved by the 30th of June. The penalty for that is $20 million if they didn't achieve that particular milestone, and then there's subsequent milestones associated with different time frames leading up until the end of calendar year 1999. The total potential penalty, is $75 million; again, not in terms of a check from the contractor, but in terms of lack of billing or that they do not bill the Government for that particular amount of dollars.
  11. In FT-11 on 02 August 1999, for the second time in less than two months, the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system, managed by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, intercepted a target missile over White Sands Missile Range, NM. The successful test, conducted by the U.S. Army, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) and a contractor team led by Missiles & Space, moved the vital defensive missile system one step closer toward deployment. The intercept occurred outside the earth's atmosphere, over the central portion of the national missile range. The target, which differed from previous THAAD flight tests, simulated a Scud ballistic missile with a separating warhead. This success marks a critical milestone for the program, as it was the first intercept of a simulated Scud missile outside the earth's atmosphere that presented a separating warhead target. All segments of the THAAD weapon system were successfully integrated during the flight test. These systems included the radar, Battle Management Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (BM/C3I), launcher and missile.
  12. FT-12
  13. FT-13
  14. In 1996 the Army anticipated exercising the contract option for the UOES interceptors in the 3rd quarter of 1996 based on the results of the first 7 of 14 scheduled demonstration and validation flight tests. Somewhere along the line, the 14th flight was dropped from the schedule. The Army purchased 20 interceptors for demonstration and validation flight tests, but by 1996 planned to use only 14 in these tests. Of the remaining six interceptors, one was scheduled for a flight test during the limited user test and the remaining five could be used as backup to the four engineering and manufacturing development tests and the limited user test.

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