US tests THAAD missile defense system over Pacific

Amid rising stakes on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully tested the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) in Kodiak, Alaska, on Sunday.

In response to repeated North Korean missile tests over the past three years, all of which is in blatant violation of UN sanctions, the U.S. began installing the THAAD system in South Korea in late April.

According to MDA, the Sunday test run saw a U.S. transport aircraft drop a medium-range missile which was identified, tracked, intercepted and destroyed over the Pacific Ocean.

The MDA also announced Sunday’s trial run was the 15th successful test of the missile defense system’s capabilities.

“In addition to successfully intercepting the target, the data collected will allow MDA to enhance the THAAD weapon system, our modeling and simulation capabilities, and our ability to stay ahead of the evolving threat,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves following the test.

Greaves did not specifically name North Korea; however, it was strongly implied the test conducted was a demonstration of THAAD’s potential to Pyongyang.

Broadcast as a warning to the U.S., North Korea conducted what it claimed was a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday.  According to South Korean and U.S. military authorities, the North Korean ICBM traveled for 47 minutes, reached an altitude of over 12,000 feet, and traveled over 600 miles.

A ground-bases missile defense system.  The THAAD is designed to identify, track and eliminate short, medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.  The defense system has a range of 125 miles and can reach an altitude of 95 miles.


[Japan Times] [YouTube/RT] [Photo courtesy Reuters via New York Post]