U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) element provides the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) with a globally-transportable, rapidly-deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.


  • Land-based element capable of shooting down a ballistic missile both inside and just outside the atmosphere.
  • Highly effective against the ballistic missile threats.
  • Uses hit-to-kill technology whereby kinetic energy destroys the incoming warhead.
  • The high-altitude intercept mitigates effects of enemy weapons of mass destruction before they reach the ground.


  • Rapidly-deployable by being globally-transportable via air, land and sea.
  • THAAD battery consists of four main components:
    Launcher: Truck-mounted, highly-mobile, able to be stored; interceptors can be fired and rapidly reloaded.
    Interceptors: Eight per launcher.
    Radar: Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) – Largest air-transportable x-band radar in the world searches, tracks, and discriminates objects and provides updated tracking data to the interceptor.
    Fire Control: Communications and data-management backbone; links THAAD components together; links THAAD to external Command and Control nodes and to the entire BMDS; plans and executes intercept solutions.


  • State-of-the-art engineering ensures high standards and efficient production and maintenance.
  • Comprehensive program of ground and flight tests, quality assurance, and design and development activities support mission success.
  • Major events in the THAAD Program:
    • Completed 15 successful intercepts in 15 attempts since program initiation. The two most recent tests were conducted in July 2017.
    • Continuing element development to incrementally improve missile defense capability.


  • Seven THAAD Batteries have been procured and delivered to the US Army.
  • MDA delivered the 200th operational Interceptor to the US Army in August 2018.

Foreign Military Sales

  • Two THAAD Batteries procured by and delivered to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • UAE Batteries are fully operational.