After the most recent International Defense Exposition and Conference, Lockheed Martin expects to sign deals with several international customers. Within seven to eight months Qatar will likely present a formal offer to Lockheed for their Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, also known as THAAD. Saudi Arabia is also discussing purchasing THAAD but it could be two or three years before a contract is signed. Middle Eastern countries are expected to be the first foreign buyers of the upgraded Patriot anti-missile weapon. As tensions rise in the Persian Gulf, spending on air defense is expected to increase in order to develop protection against enemy ballistic missiles and aircraft.
THAAD includes five major components that are fully integrated with the system. THAAD is comprised of launchers, interceptors, radar, THAAD fire control and communications units, and THAAD-specific support equipment. It is interoperable with other Ballistic Missile Defense System elements. For example, it can take cues from Aegis and works in conjunction with the Patriot/PAC-3. Only two THAAD Warfighter Batteries have been activated. However, the system has a one hundred percent mission success rate during testing.
The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 or PAC-3 Missiles represents a technological leap in missile defense. The high velocity interceptor missiles defeats tactical ballistic missiles threats, cruise missiles and aircraft threats with direct, body-to-body impact. On a Patriot launcher, the PAC-3 significantly increases the system’s firepower because 16 PAC-3s can be loaded compared to four legacy Patriot PAC-2 missiles. In operation Iraqi Freedom, PAC-3 missiles were one hundred percent effective and are now deployed with U.S. and allied forces. Powered by a solid propellant rocket motor, the PAC-3 uses aerodynamic controls, attitude control motors (ACMs), and inertial guidance to navigate to a predetermined intercept point. Just before arriving at the intercept point, the on board Ka band seeker acquires the target and selects the optimal aim point. The ACMs, which are small, short duration rocket motors, fire to refine the missile’s course to assure body-to-body impact. This missile has been selected as the primary interceptor for the Multi-National Medium Extended Air Defense System.
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