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THAAD Development

sferrin

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I'm wondering whatever happened to the plan for a booster for THAAD. It was in AvWeek years ago but then nothing seems to have been done on it.
 

Sea Skimmer

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The 21in big booster THAAD has simply never ever had any funding allocated by the US government, and as far as I can tell it has never been more then a notional upgrade made possible by the end of the ABM treaty studied a bit with company money. The idea is at least as old as the Bush pullout from the ABM treaty, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was considered of even earlier.


Since land based SM-3 is now being pursued anyway no real reason exists to invest in a more capable THAAD, compared to just placing SM-3 on the same launchers as THAAD at some future point. Both were designed on the basis of Mk41 compatibility after all and are very similar sizes. Before land SM-3 was an option, KEI also made a more capable THAAD redundant though to a lesser degree since KEI was going to be so big and expensive.
 

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http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a344890.pdf

http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2000/MDA/stamped/PE0604861C.pdf
http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2000/MDA/stamped/PE0604218C.pdf
 

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http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a344663.pdf

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a338789.pdf
 

sferrin

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Sea Skimmer said:
Both were designed on the basis of Mk41 compatibility after all and are very similar sizes.
THAAD is roughly the same length but significantly smaller in diameter and weight. In fact with a booster on the bottom of the stack it wouldn't fit in a Mk41 cell.
 

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sferrin said:
THAAD is roughly the same length but significantly smaller in diameter and weight. In fact with a booster on the bottom of the stack it wouldn't fit in a Mk41 cell.

Like I said, it was to be 21in, this was to be a complete booster replacement with no added length. That fits fine. I poked around a bit, and in fact it seems this idea goes all the way back to the early 1990s when THAAD was still joint Army-Navy in the first place. It is entirely compatible with Mk41. Since SM-3 Block II already replaces its own 13.5in booster with a 21in booster the project currently has very little justifiable point. THAAD has an added endo capability that SM-3 does not, but a massively increased motor size doesn't really do anything to exploit that. A bigger booster would also drive up the cost per missile considerably, as it does for SM-3 which is the last thing anyone wants.
 

sferrin

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Sea Skimmer said:
sferrin said:
THAAD is roughly the same length but significantly smaller in diameter and weight. In fact with a booster on the bottom of the stack it wouldn't fit in a Mk41 cell.

Like I said, it was to be 21in, this was to be a complete booster replacement with no added length.
Actually, you didn't say it was a complete booster replacement, and I thought I read somewhere that the "booster" was just adding the one from SM-3 Block I to THAAD, increasing it's length.
 

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Mark S. said:
Seems that the SM-3 has fallen out of favor
Makes sense -- without MKV to allow for a smaller terminal kill stage and thus higher delta-V to increase the footprint of SM-3...it's a very constrained system limited by the need to fit within a Mk41 VLS cell using current solid propellants.
 

sferrin

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RyanCrierie said:
Mark S. said:
Seems that the SM-3 has fallen out of favor
Makes sense -- without MKV to allow for a smaller terminal kill stage and thus higher delta-V to increase the footprint of SM-3...it's a very constrained system limited by the need to fit within a Mk41 VLS cell using current solid propellants.
And there aren't enough of the bigger, Mk57 cells, to justify a larger missile.
 

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sferrin said:
Actually, you didn't say it was a complete booster replacement, and I thought I read somewhere that the "booster" was just adding the one from SM-3 Block I to THAAD, increasing it's length.

Well I would have said third stage if I meant that, and SM-3 Block I is not 21in.


As for missile size, actually that problem was studied in the early 2000s when the US was still uncertain on building KEI owing to its immense size and absurd estimated cost, up to 70 million per warshot. The weapon was called ‘six shooter’ and ‘Standard Missile 27’ in notional studies. What they would have done is take the space of an eight cell Mk41 VLS unit and replaced it with six staggered 27in diameter cells which also extended out of the deck somewhat, I never saw a spec for just how far. A missile capable of 1,500km range and velocity as high as 6.5km/s was estimated to be possible with a 50kg kill vehicle. This weapon would be marginally capable of boost phased intercepts of ICBMs.
A weapon like this is still an option and a modification reasonable for existing warships, the problem remains cost. SM-3 Block II is estimated at around 24 million dollars right now, against about 10 million each for SM-3 Block I and THAAD. A 27in missile will cost even more unless very large numbers were produced.
 

sferrin

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Sea Skimmer said:
sferrin said:
Actually, you didn't say it was a complete booster replacement, and I thought I read somewhere that the "booster" was just adding the one from SM-3 Block I to THAAD, increasing it's length.

Well I would have said third stage if I meant that, and SM-3 Block I is not 21in.
Actually, that would be the 1st stage I'm referring too (as I said "booster") and it is 21" diameter on the SM-3 Block I
 

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Wouldn't it be easier and less expensive to just add SM-3's to the THAAD battery? I believe the SM-3 can be cued by the TPY-2 radar and you can develop a common canister. That would give you a 3-stage missile with a KV for the exoatmospheric segment of the mission. Think it would take a lot less money than trying to give the THAAD missile SM-3 performance.
 

sferrin

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Mark S. said:
Wouldn't it be easier and less expensive to just add SM-3's to the THAAD battery? I believe the SM-3 can be cued by the TPY-2 radar and you can develop a common canister. That would give you a 3-stage missile with a KV for the exoatmospheric segment of the mission. Think it would take a lot less money than trying to give the THAAD missile SM-3 performance.
No. Mobile land-based missiles have different requirements than naval missiles. And it's not so much "make it into an SM-3" as it is "let's make it a bit better than it is".
 

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Information on the proposed THAAD larger booster and a second stage is on p. 42 of the Aug. 17, 2009 issue of Aviation Week. The proposal had a 21 inch diameter booster and a second kick stage. Gave the missile more divert capability resulting in 3 to 4 times the defended area. Article mentioned that they were tested on stands in 2006. The launcher can only carry 5 of the larger variants.

Surprised that the SM-3 can't be used as a land mobile missile when it is slated for a land based Aegis Ashore system. The THAAD battery itself seems to be only road mobile. The ground clearance of the electronics, cooling and power units seems to be to little for cross-country mobility.
 

sferrin

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Mark S. said:
Information on the proposed THAAD larger booster and a second stage is on p. 42 of the Aug. 17, 2009 issue of Aviation Week. The proposal had a 21 inch diameter booster and a second kick stage. Gave the missile more divert capability resulting in 3 to 4 times the defended area. Article mentioned that they were tested on stands in 2006. The launcher can only carry 5 of the larger variants.

Surprised that the SM-3 can't be used as a land mobile missile when it is slated for a land based Aegis Ashore system. The THAAD battery itself seems to be only road mobile. The ground clearance of the electronics, cooling and power units seems to be to little for cross-country mobility.
Thanks. :)
 

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Lockheed Pitches Two-Stage Army Missile Interceptor With 'Modest' Costs


Posted: Sep. 26, 2014

The next version of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense's interceptor could use two motors to improve its velocity and ability to change direction mid-flight, according to Lockheed Martin officials.

A concept baseline is still in development for the THAAD Extended Range interceptor, according to Doug Graham, Lockheed's vice president of advanced programs for strategic and missile defense systems. But it's anticipated that the new interceptor would have two motors -- the current configuration has one -- broadening the area that the missile defense system can cover and giving the interceptor a greater ability to move laterally while flying downrange.

"The idea there is to have a lot more divert capabilities in the endgame so you can address some of the advanced threats that are starting to emerge around the world," Graham said at a Sept. 23 luncheon in Washington.

THAAD is a transportable system that protects against ballistic missiles both inside and outside the atmosphere during their final flight phase, according to the Missile Defense Agency's website. At this point, the "Extended-Range" version is a contractor proposal, not a program of record.

The new interceptor could be integrated onto existing fire units, said Lockheed's vice president for THAAD, Richard McDaniel. He added that it's yet to be determined whether the potential upgrades would be on top of existing interceptor inventory, or replace older ones.

While having two motors would bring some benefits, the Lockheed officials acknowledged that it will also make the interceptors heavier. Since the fire unit is not being altered, the heavier round could result in less missiles being loaded onto each launcher, Graham said.

The upgraded interceptor's ability to integrate into current fire units will result in "a very modest cost increase for a very substantial increase in capability," Graham said. MDA plans on giving Lockheed $22.6 million in fiscal year 2015 base funds for THAAD development, Defense Department budget documents show.

Senate authorizers, however, want to cut $15 million from the department's $300 million request for research, development, test and evaluation FY-15 dollars for THAAD. The committee believes the upgrade concept "is not sufficiently defined" and the requested money is "early to need," according to the Senate Armed Services Committee's report on the FY-15 defense-policy bill.

McDaniel said the company's envisioned upgrade could be compared to the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhanced, an improved version of the Patriot interceptor that also does not necessitate any changes to the overall missile defense system. The Lockheed-made PAC-3 MSE entered low-rate initial production earlier this year.

Like the Patriot interceptor, THAAD's flagship international customer was the United Arab Emirates. The system has recently garnered interest from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, too, according to McDaniel.

Lockheed is currently under contract to provide six THAAD batteries for the U.S. Army. McDaniel said the service has put together plans to procure a seventh battery and is looking into obtaining an eighth and ninth, as well. As InsideDefense.com reported in June, that would be a reversal on the Army's plans to scale back its THAAD buys due to budget constraints. -- Justin Doubleday
 

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Would the second motor increase the velocity of the missile allowing it to hit longer range targets as well?
 

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From the way Lockheed is talking, greater range and greater capability to engage higher-performance threats definitely seem to be in their sights. The reduction in missiles carried per launcher will not be trivial, though, the model sferrin posted looks to have a much greater diameter booster. I'd not be surprised if the limit of the current launcher is 4 THAAD-ERs, and I wouldn't be shocked to see 2 or 3.
 

sferrin

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Moose said:
From the way Lockheed is talking, greater range and greater capability to engage higher-performance threats definitely seem to be in their sights. The reduction in missiles carried per launcher will not be trivial, though, the model sferrin posted looks to have a much greater diameter booster. I'd not be surprised if the limit of the current launcher is 4 THAAD-ERs, and I wouldn't be shocked to see 2 or 3.
I read somewhere (probably AvWeek ages ago) that it would be 5 big missiles in place of 8 standard sized missiles.
 

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It may be Lockheed's answer to the Aegis Ashore program especially if the missile has the same or better performance than the SM-3.
 

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At $24m a shot, how many do you have to fire at a rogue state's nuclear-warhead rocket before it stops becoming cost-effective? :eek:


The long and the short: what's the dollar-value penalty of a Hiroshima-sized nuke on Tel Aviv or Seoul?
 

bobbymike

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pathology_doc said:
At $24m a shot, how many do you have to fire at a rogue state's nuclear-warhead rocket before it stops becoming cost-effective? :eek:


The long and the short: what's the dollar-value penalty of a Hiroshima-sized nuke on Tel Aviv or Seoul?
Are you serious? Tangible costs would be in the tens of billions and intangible (oil prices, global stock market collapses, etc) would be in the TRILLIONS!! You could justify spending billions to stop a single nuke detonation over a city.
 

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http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2015/01/pentagon-wants-extend-range-one-its-missile-interceptors/102444/
 

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Congress Interested In THAAD-ER To Counter Hypersonic Missiles


Congress has expressed interest in the possibility of knocking out hypersonic missiles with an extended-range version of the Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system as the United States and Russia race to produce air-launched hypersonic cruise missiles.
According to media reports, Russia aims to produce a hypersonic cruise missile before 2020, around the same time the U.S. Air Force expects to transition its scramjet and boost-glide hypersonic missile designs into acquisition programs.
The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee proposed legislative language this week that would direct the Defense Department to brief Congress on the possibility of using a proposed extended-range THAAD missile system to "confront hypersonic missile threats."
"Although a materiel solution decision has not yet been made, THAAD-ER could be a vital capability improvement for the ballistic missile defense system to defeat evolving and emerging threats, including hypersonic vehicles and anti-ship ballistic missiles," the subcommittee's mark of the fiscal year 2016 defense authorization bill states.
The Air Force Research Laboratory in partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are spending millions of dollars to mature two types of air-launched, hypersonic missiles -- a boost-glide weapon and one that is rocket boosted, but powered by a scramjet engine.
In an April 17 interview with Inside the Air Force, AFRL Aerospace Systems chief Douglas Ebersole said those two high-speed missiles should transition into acquisition programs in the 2020 time frame or possibly earlier. AFRL's current programs aims to mature hypersonic weapon system components to Technology Readiness Level 6.
Other nations are also developing hypersonic missiles. Boris Obnosov, general director of Russia's Tactical Missile Systems Corporation, said in November that the first Russian hypersonic missile should be ready "before 2020."
The Defense Department is pursuing a number of different hypersonic weapon projects, and the Air Force is leading the development of air-launched missiles and aircraft. Ebersole said the his directorate's hypersonic missile technologies would contribute to the Air Force's Air Dominance 2030 initiative, which aims to produce a new assortment of aircraft and weapons to defeat heavily defended targets in a high-threat environment.
AFRL's latest hypersonics research builds on the success of the scramjet-powered X-51 WaveRider program. Ebersole described the successful fourth flight of the X-51 in 2013 as a "Chuck Yeager moment," in reference to the first manned supersonic flight. While hypersonic flight is nothing new, the Air Force has for years wanted to field a functional flight vehicle capable of routinely going beyond five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5. But Ebersole believes the X-51 flight demonstration over the Pacific Ocean was exactly the breakthrough AFRL and DARPA needed to move their joint hypersonics research program forward.
"It really tipped and demonstrated that this technology is feasible and it's real," he said. "We hope to have a hypersonic weapon in the field prior to 2030 that helps support that air superiority role and strike activity."
Jack Blackhurst, AFRL's director of plans and programs, told ITAF last month that the Air Force and DARPA plan to spend between $800 million and $1 billion to mature and demonstrate emerging hypersonic flight technologies over the next five years. According to a March 31 slide showing AFRL hypersonics roadmap, the laboratory's plan is to first develop a hypersonic weapon capable of "rapid strike from standoff" in the 2020s followed by a tactical surveillance and strike aircraft for "deep strike of high-value targets" in the 2030s. In the 2040 time frame, AFRL hopes to create a penetrating, persistent surveillance and strike aircraft capable of routine operations from a regular runway.
Ebersole explained that the first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform would probably be launched from an aircraft, similar to the way the Vietnam War-era Firefly drone was deployed from a C-130. "It would be air-launched off a fairly big platform, and the various modes of recovery are under study right now," he said. One option is for the aircraft to descend like a Space Shuttle and glide onto a flat surface using skids.
"That's not an expendable program; that would be one you recover," Ebersole said. "Then about a decade later in the 2040s, we see a role where you'll have a fully-reusable strike/ISR option or platform where it would take off like a regular, conventional aircraft and execute the mission and come back and land."
The Air Force is keen to develop hypersonic weapons and aircraft that are too fast to be shot down in a contested area of operation, and that are better at destroying fast-moving and heavily defended targets. Ebersole said that advanced materials research is key to unlocking the possibilities of hypersonics, because airframes traveling at those speeds experience extremely high temperatures and shock waves.
DARPA has requested ramped up spending on joint Air Force hypersonic weapon projects in its FY-16 budget request. The agency has requested $40 million in FY-16 to scale up the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept project, and $20 million for the Tactical Boost Glide program. Air Force investments in hypersonics are spread throughout its budget request. -- James Drew
http://insidedefense.com/node/169009

The company has been spending its own money on the THAAD-ER concept for some six to seven years. The hypersonic threat has been under serious study for the last 12-18 months.
"We know exactly what we need to do to the [THAAD] missile to extend its range," said Trotsky. "We are essentially adding a two-stage booster system where we have a larger than current THAAD initial booster stage, and then a second stage, what we call a kick stage. So the first stage gets you out longer and higher against modern threats, and the kick stage is responsible for narrowing the distance between the target and the interceptor, so you can turn it over to the kill vehicle - the same kill vehicle that exists on THAAD today," he added.
"We've done some initial work on the booster stages to characterise them and to do some additional testing and to prove the viability.... We continue to work on the booster stack and some of the system engineering that has to be done to definitise the design. I think what you'll see from MDA is an acceleration of that engineering work in the next few years because of the kind of threats that we're seeing being developed by our adversaries."
Some of this work has been done with funding from the MDA (either via the current THAAD Advanced Capability Development (ACD) contract, or from other THAAD contracts) and some using company money. Work on the new booster and kick motor is being handled by Aerojet.

Asked to explain how a THAAD ER missile would engage a hypersonic glide missile, Trotsky pointed out that the US ballistic missile defence system (BMDS) uses both terrestrial and space- based sensors. "So we have a number of sensors that are communicating with C2BMC, and tell us that we have a launch and that we have a ballistic target that is flying essentially at the seam of the atmosphere. We know how fast it is flying and where it is flying, so we can characterise it as a hypersonic fairly well."
By using the THAAD ER version, a launch will be possible much earlier than with a standard THAAD. "You can attack that threat before he can try to do some evasive manoeuvres. The ER has some specific capability that would be good to intercept that kind of target.... But even the current THAAD has capability against that threat," he added.

 

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sferrin

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Mark S. said:
It may be Lockheed's answer to the Aegis Ashore program especially if the missile has the same or better performance than the SM-3.
They fill different niches. Aegis ashore will eventually get SM-3 Block IIA and operates out of fixed sites. THAAD is air-mobile and can be deployed anywhere you can land a C-17 and drive from. Also SM-3 out performs THAAD but can't go after endoatomospheric targets.

It's a crying shame we never pursued this:

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,17791.msg179365.html#msg179365

"I ran across this site while looking for a particular picture of the Upstage in flight. It showed a vapor trail making a 90 degree right turn followed by a 90 degree left turn. Some of the engineers had this picture in their offices. If this picture can be found it depicts what a remarkable accomplishment it was." - ENM42
 

bring_it_on

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In fiscal year 2015 MDA received funding for procurement of long-lead Transmit/Receive Integrated Microwave Modules (TRIMM) for the Float Antenna Equipment Unit (AEU) to include initial Gallium Nitride TRIMMS procurement transition. Raytheon's AN/TPY-2 currently uses Gallium Arsenide (GaAS). The FY 2015 funding will pay for a spare AEU to be converted to GaN.
Raytheon recently demonstrated its first land-based radar outfitted with GaN. In February, the company announced it had received permission from the US government to make its Patriot radar with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) and GaN available to international customers.
 

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sferrin said:
Mark S. said:
It may be Lockheed's answer to the Aegis Ashore program especially if the missile has the same or better performance than the SM-3.
They fill different niches. Aegis ashore will eventually get SM-3 Block IIA and operates out of fixed sites. THAAD is air-mobile and can be deployed anywhere you can land a C-17 and drive from. Also SM-3 out performs THAAD but can't go after endoatomospheric targets.

It's a crying shame we never pursued this:

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,17791.msg179365.html#msg179365

"I ran across this site while looking for a particular picture of the Upstage in flight. It showed a vapor trail making a 90 degree right turn followed by a 90 degree left turn. Some of the engineers had this picture in their offices. If this picture can be found it depicts what a remarkable accomplishment it was." - ENM42
Even though TDACS is an engineering marvel, I would still expect THAAD to handily outperform SM-3 in divert capability which is presumably what you want
against maneuvering targets.
 

sferrin

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marauder2048 said:
sferrin said:
Mark S. said:
It may be Lockheed's answer to the Aegis Ashore program especially if the missile has the same or better performance than the SM-3.
They fill different niches. Aegis ashore will eventually get SM-3 Block IIA and operates out of fixed sites. THAAD is air-mobile and can be deployed anywhere you can land a C-17 and drive from. Also SM-3 out performs THAAD but can't go after endoatomospheric targets.

It's a crying shame we never pursued this:

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,17791.msg179365.html#msg179365

"I ran across this site while looking for a particular picture of the Upstage in flight. It showed a vapor trail making a 90 degree right turn followed by a 90 degree left turn. Some of the engineers had this picture in their offices. If this picture can be found it depicts what a remarkable accomplishment it was." - ENM42
Even though TDACS is an engineering marvel, I would still expect THAAD to handily outperform SM-3 in divert capability which is presumably what you want
against maneuvering targets.
Any KKV will have more agility than an attacking missile in space. But in the atmosphere SM-3 is out of the picture anyway.
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
marauder2048 said:
Even though TDACS is an engineering marvel, I would still expect THAAD to handily outperform SM-3 in divert capability which is presumably what you want
against maneuvering targets.
Any KKV will have more agility than an attacking missile in space. But in the atmosphere SM-3 is out of the picture anyway.
Perhaps the intercept geometry isn't clear to me; HTV-2 looks like it has plenty of agility once it separates.
 

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In the atmosphere.
 

bring_it_on

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I guess at one time they thought they'd get 6 interceptors a launcher (vs 5 claimed now).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcqhGlftYfU
 

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MDA is again studying prospects for an extended-range THAAD interceptor (THAAD-ER), a missile that could potentially defend 9-12 times the area of current THAAD interceptors.551 This intercep- tor would be of particular interest to the extended geography of the Asia-Pacific, and as a means to defend against hypersonic systems.552 The USA has requested THAAD-ER by no later than 2025, citing a threat that is “likely to challenge the capability of THAAD in its current configuration.”553
http://csis.org/files/publication/160119_Green_AsiaPacificRebalance2025_Web_0.pdf
 

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bring_it_on said:
I guess at one time they thought they'd get 6 interceptors a launcher (vs 5 claimed now).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcqhGlftYfU
Consider that the top of current THAAD's envelope is over 100 miles up. :eek:
 

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There is quite a strong chance that the THAAD ER initial funding (beyond concept development) would be included in either the FY17 or FY18 budgets. I guess we'll know in a couple of weeks if they are funding it in FY17.

A couple of news stories from last year:

LOCKHEED: DOD EYEING POSSIBLE EXTENDED-RANGE THAAD PROGRAM IN FY-17

The Pentagon formally commissioned Lockheed Martin last fall to explore the feasibility of developing a new variant of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor capable of shooting down hypersonic weapons as well as destroying ballistic missiles at greater distances -- eyeing the launch of a new program as soon as fiscal year 2017, according to a Lockheed executive.

Last fall, the Missile Defense Agency awarded Lockheed a $2 million study contract to flesh out a design concept and shape requirements for a potential extended-range variant of THAAD, which would add a new two-stage booster system to the current THAAD interceptor, according to Doug Graham, Lockheed Martin vice president of advanced programs for strategic missile defense systems.

"We're working with them [MDA] to essentially define the concept to put us in a position to start development of the [THAAD-ER] program in the future," Graham told InsideDefense.com in an exclusive Jan. 7 interview.

"We're looking toward the start of a formal program in the FY-17 or FY-18 time frame," Graham said, adding that timing is a matter for MDA to determine and will be shaped in large part by the availability of funds for a new program.

Rick Lehner, an MDA spokesman, confirmed the $2 million project. "Lockheed Martin completed the study and delivered it to MDA for evaluation, which is now ongoing," Lehner said in a Jan. 8 statement.

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Syring: MDA Doing 'Early Evaluation' Of THAAD Extended Range Proposal

The Missile Defense Agency is evaluating Lockheed Martin's proposal for an advanced hypersonic and ballistic missile interceptor, but other options will be considered before starting a program of record, possibly including the Navy's Standard Missile-6, according to the agency's top official.

MDA Director Vice Adm. James Syring characterized the work his agency is doing on Lockheed's offer as "early evaluation of an industry concept" during a Feb. 2 press briefing at the Pentagon. The company has proposed developing a new interceptor for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system called THAAD Extended Range.

"Without going into the threat, we are always concerned about the growing threat and its capability," Syring said. "THAAD ER is one solution. I think it's fair to say that we'll look at others in conjunction with THAAD ER and I think by next year you'll see a more definitive answer on our path ahead with either that program or an evolution of other interceptor programs."

Asked what other systems or concepts MDA may consider, Syring said: "One would be SM-6."

"Nothing's been proposed in that area, but it would be safe to say that before any program would start that we would work closely with the [Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation] on what the other alternatives would be to meet the threat," he continued.

The Pentagon is requesting funds for THAAD ER concept development in fiscal year 2016, according to the Defense Department's budget request. MDA's budget overview states the agency "will begin concept development and risk reduction activities for THAAD follow-on. The risk reduction effort will determine the technical merits of expanding system interoperability with other air and missile defense systems, and expanding the battlespace and defended area of the THAAD baseline weapon system in response to emerging threats."

The agency awarded Lockheed a $2 million contract last fall to develop an extended-range concept for THAAD, which would add a two-stage booster to the current interceptor, according to Doug Graham, Lockheed Martin vice president of advanced programs for strategic missile defense systems.

Graham told InsideDefense.com last month that MDA's interest in the concept has "heightened" after China reportedly conducted three flight tests of a boost-glide hypersonic weapon last year. "We're looking toward the start of a formal program in the FY-17 or FY-18 time frame," Graham said, adding that the timing is up to MDA and the availability of funds. -- Justin Doubleday
 
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