Missile Defense Agency Director Lieutenant General Henry "Trey" Obering announced that a planned intercept test for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense element was successfully conducted today at 12:20 a.m. EST (January 26, 7:20 p.m. Hawaii Time) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Preliminary indications are that planned flight test objectives were achieved.

This test involved the successful intercept of a "high endo-atmospheric" (just inside earth's atmosphere) unitary (non-separating) target representing a "SCUD"-type ballistic missile launched from a mobile platform positioned off Kauai in the Pacific Ocean. The interceptor was launched from the THAAD launch complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF).

Primary flight test objectives included demonstrating successful missile launch from the PMRF launch site; interceptor seeker characterization (target identification), discrimination and intercept of a non-separating liquid-fueled target; and collection of data including missile aimpoint, ground equipment and radar tracking/target discrimination and hit assessment algorithms, and evaluation of the missile launching procedures and equipment.

This was the first test of the THAAD system at PMRF since equipment was moved to the range in October, 2006. For the first time, soldiers of the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas operated all equipment during the test, conducting operations of the launcher, fire control and communications and radar. Their interaction with the complete THAAD system provided valuable test and operations experience for the soldiers and contributed to the operational realism of the test.

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.

This was the second successful intercept for the current THAAD program in three tests, including a test conducted in September 2006 at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, that was not completed due to a failure of the target missile after it was launched.

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.