Why China is Against THAAD?

THAAD is a crucial component of the US effort to deploy a multi-layered, integrated ballistic missile defense system.

It is claimed that China fears an American aerial defense system so much that it may have to reconsider how and where it deploys its aerial assets, namely strategic ballistic missiles. The threat could be so severe that this system could, ultimately, threaten its regional security interests.

So, what is this magical weapon? Let us introduce THAAD.

THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense to give it its full name, is an anti-missile system that shoots down intermediate and short-range ballistic missiles as they approach their targets.

To eliminate incoming missiles, it employs hit-to-kill technology, which relies on its kinetic energy to be destroyed. It can intercept missiles inside and outside the atmosphere and can be combined with other missile defense systems.

After the Iraqi Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991, THAAD was developed as a response. The incoming missile is destroyed not by a warhead but by the THAAD interceptor's impact on the target.

Having its origins as an Army program, THAAD is now managed by the Missile Defense Agency. The Navy's Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System is a similar program with a land and sea-based component ("Aegis Ashore").

THAAD deployment was initiated in May 2008, although the original deployment date was 2012. The system is currently operational in the UAE, Israel, Romania, South Korea, and the United States.

But how does it work?

Put simply, THAAD uses cutting-edge sensors to "seek" and lock onto incoming targets, such as enemy ballistic missiles traveling up to 17,000 miles per hour (27,359 kph). This allows the THAAD guidance system to direct the THAAD interceptor toward the threat.

THAAD comprises several key components: radar, launchers, interceptor missiles, and a fire control system. The radar detects and tracks incoming missiles, the launchers fire interceptor missiles, and the fire control system directs the interceptors to collide with the incoming missiles.

THAAD is designed to operate in both standalone and integrated modes, with the ability to integrate with other missile defense systems to provide enhanced defense against a wide range of missile threats.

THAAD’s developer, BAE Systems, has continuously upgraded its sensor designs to boost the performance of precision-guided munitions (PGM) and electronic warfare (EW) systems in response to the growing need to update defense infrastructure to deter aggression.

The high-altitude intercept capability of THAAD lessens the destructive potential of enemy intermediate- and short-range ballistic missiles, including hypersonic variants, before they reach the ground, and the system's hit-to-kill kinetic impact reduces the likelihood of an explosion.

BAE Systems, a global leader in military and intelligence sensor technologies for more than 40 years, is performing cutting-edge sensor design work to improve the THAAD missile defense system's guidance capabilities and neutralize more threats while optimizing manufacturability.

With such capable hands behind THAAD’s development and ongoing improvement, it seems China needs to think quickly to find another way to keep its skies safe from incoming threats.