Strategic Weapons: China and Russia Get A THAAD Ache

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April 29, 2015: The United States is encountering a lot of diplomatic resistance from Russia, China and Iran because of plans to deploy its THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile systems in East Europe, South Korea and the Persian Gulf.

The United States has three THAAD batteries and has already deployed THAAD batteries to Guam and Hawaii. South Korea and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) are buying THAAD also. The UAE first proposed buying THAAD in 2008 and has, so far, spent nearly $700 million on the two TPY-2 radars alone and over a billion on other costs of assembling and installing the system. UAE is buying 96 THAAD missiles and expects the system to be operational by 2017. 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.

U.S. efforts to deploy some of its THAAD units to East Europe is encountering lots of resistance from Russia, including threats to use nukes against any European country that hosts those THAAD batteries. THAAD has been in development since the 1980s. The U.S. is in the process of buying another five THAAD batteries.

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 $400 million. 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.

In early 2015 South Korea openly called on China to stop using diplomatic threats and economic bribes in an effort to get South Korea to halt the installation of an anti-missile system. South Korea wants this American THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system for protection from North Korean missile attack. The Chinese would not come right out and say it but they object mainly because THAAD would also make South Korea less vulnerable to intimidation by Chinese ballistic missiles. South Korea openly refused to comply with the Chinese threats and South Korean public opinion became even more enthusiastic about the high tech and very expensive (over $100 million per launcher and associated equipment) THAAD system. China sees South Korea more of an ally of the United States and a potential wartime foe than as an ally in attempts to keep North Korea from doing anything that would cause major economic and diplomatic problems (like starting a war).   

 

 


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