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The launch of a THAAD rocket

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (formerly known as Theater High Altitude Area Defense), or THAAD, is the latest version of the missile-defense system used by the United States. On May 2, 2017, officials confirmed that it has been deployed in South Korea to defend against communist North Korea, despite China's strong objections.[1] THAAD was first used on May 14, 2017,[2] and it was successfully tested on July 11, 2017.[3]

THAAD can be used on short and medium range ballistic missiles but not on ICBMs.[3]

Design and function

The design of a THAAD rocket

The THAAD rocket stands at just over 20 feet long (242.9 inches). It does not use explosives—it destroys missiles using kinetic energy (by impact). It essentially contains only a rocket booster and guidance package. However, THAAD is currently the most advanced missile defense system known in the world. So far, it boasts a 100% success rate.[4] Largely due to their size, the rockets are portable, and often deployed on trucks. They can also be carried by other vehicles, including ships.


  1. Multiple references:
  2. Kim, Christine; Miles, Tom (May 16, 2017). North Korea missile detected by THAAD, program progressing faster than expected: South Korea. Reuters. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Multiple references: