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19 April 2017

THAAD launch—U.S. Missile Defense Agency image

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is a mobile system is meant to destroy incoming missile warheads in their terminal phases. Since these warheads would be destroyed over friendly territory the THAAD missile works using a direct hit instead of proximity explosions—the kinetic kill—to not disperse the warhead materials wider than minimally possible.

X-band radar (microwave frequencies from 7–11.2 GHz) ground units guide the 125 mile ranged missile with an altitude capability of 93 miles. The ER (extended range) version, if development is successful, promises to be useful against hypersonic glide vehicles.

The speed of incoming warheads, as well as hypersonic glide vehicles, make shooting them down a machine-v-machine affair as there is a matter of ten seconds or less to acquire, launch and kill the incoming threat.

THAAD launch—U.S. Missile Defense Agency image

THAAD missile burning its way to a test interception—U.S. Missile Defense Agency image

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 22 April 2017 14:14

    I watched some videos of THAAD launches. I don’t believe its initial acceleration is as fast as the PATRIOT missile. When PATRIOT launches, you get the sonic boom by the time the missile has traveled not much more than its own length. That is fast acceleration.

    Here are some test launches of PATRIOT. Note that when the launcher is more distant, it takes longer for the sonic boom to reach the microphone.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      23 April 2017 01:15

      Thanks Chuck. For missile acceleration check out the Sprint. I think for every second for sound to reach means one kilometer away.

      Back to the missiles…amazingly fast 🙂

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