The US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system is operational in South Korea to guard against missile threats emanating from North Korea. South Korea is concerned about the nuclear threat posed by the North Korea especially after the accession of Kim Jong-un as the supreme leader of North Korea in 2012. However, China and North Korea have continually called the deployment of THAAD in South Korea as an act of aggression.
THAAD, is a missile defence system capable of intercepting and destroying short and medium-range ballistic missiles in their final flight phase. Each THAAD system consists of interceptors, launchers, a radar, a fire control unit and support equipment. Its role is to simply track and destroy missiles.
First, by using radar threats will be identified by those manning the system, who will then fire a projectile from a truck called the interceptor to intercept the incoming missiles. The interceptor by using its kinetic energy destroys the incoming ballistic missile. Hence it is considered safer as it does not make use of warheads to destroy missiles.
The THAAD is highly mobile and can be deployed worldwide. It is also interoperable with other ballistic missile defense systems. Hence, it will provide the critical capability to defend against short and medium ranged ballistic missiles. It can intercept missiles inside and outside the atmosphere.
The THAAD system in many ways is similar to Israel’s missile defence system called Iron Dome, which is in operation since 2011. Iron Dome helps Israel to prevent Gaza attacking Israel’s urban and highly sensitive areas. Iron Dome has a much shorter detection range than THAAD and serves the purpose of intercepting short and medium range missiles.