Air Defense: Saudis Join The THAAD Club

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October 31, 2017: Saudi Arabia had followed the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and placed an order for THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile systems. The UAE ordered two THAAD batteries in 2011 after considering it since 2008. The Saudi order is for $15 billion to pay for 44 launchers, 360 THAAD missiles, seven radars and 26 fire control systems. In addition the order includes support vehicles, generators and maintenance gear plus training and tech support.

A THAAD battery consists of 24 missiles, three launchers and a fire control and communications system. This include the TPY-2 X-Band radar. The gear for each battery costs over half a billion dollars. The six meter (18 foot) long THAAD missiles weigh 836 kg (1,400 pounds). This is about the same size as the Patriot anti-aircraft missile, but twice the weight of the anti-missile version of the Patriot. The range of THAAD is 200 kilometers, max altitude is 150 kilometers, and it is intended for short (like SCUD) or medium range (up to 2,000 kilometer) range ballistic missiles. The TPY-2 radar can spot missiles (or aircraft) over 2,000 kilometers away.

THAAD has been in development since the 1980s. The U.S. has ordered five THAAD batteries and most are already in service. UAE’s neighbor Oman has also ordered at least one THAAD battery. THAAD is mobile and can go anywhere the heavy trucks its uses can go. The Saudis were impressed at how effectively their American Patriot systems have been in stopping ballistic missiles fired from Yemen. UAE moved a Patriot battery to Yemen to defend Saudi and UAE troops there.

 

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