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– Frank Klotz
former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
THAAD Achieves First Intercept
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With its future on the line after six test failures, the Army's Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted a Scud-like ballistic missile target for the first time June 10 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. In a special news briefing that same day, Brigadier General Richard Davis of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization said, "With the successful Patriot PAC-3 intercept in March of 1999, the United States now has successfully demonstrated hit-to-kill intercepts for a two-tier system."

THAAD, the most mature of the "upper-tier" theater missile defense (TMD) systems, must achieve two more intercepts before it is able to proceed into the pre-production "engineering, manufacturing and development phase." Lockheed Martin, the system's prime contractor, faced a $15 million penalty for the March 29 THAAD failure and may be hit with an additional $20 million fine if the system fails in its upcoming intercept test, likely to be held in July.

The United States has spent about $3.8 billion on THAAD since its development began in 1992. Under the Pentagon's competitive upper-tier TMD strategy, announced by Defense Secretary William Cohen in January, the United States hopes to deploy either THAAD or its sea-based counterpart, Navy Theater Wide, by 2007.