FY97 DOT&E Annual Report


Army ACAT ID Program
1233 missiles
Total program cost (TY$) $14.84B
Average unit cost (TY$) $5.8M
Full-rate production FY07

Prime Contractor
Lockheed Martin (Lead System
Raytheon (Radar Developer)


The THAAD system is a response to the vulnerability of U.S. forces and protected populations to the ballistic missile threat. THAAD, the first weapon system designed specifically to defeat Theater Ballistic Missiles (TBMs), is a ground-based missile defense system that constitutes the upper tier of a two-tiered defense against TBMs; PATRIOT and Navy Area serves as the lower. THAAD can conduct both endoatmospheric and exoatmospheric intercepts using state-of-the-art hit-to-kill technology. The system comprises four segments: missile; launcher; radar; and battle management/command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (BM/C4I). The missile is a single-stage, solid booster that propels a separating, maneuvering kill vehicle that uses infrared (IR) tracking to complete the intercept. The launcher is a modified Palletized Load System (PLS) truck. The PLS contains electronics, missile round pallet, generator, and battery pack. The radar is a solid-state, phased-array antenna supported by an electronics unit, a cooling unit, and a prime power unit. The THAAD BM/4I contains a Tactical Operational Center, a Sensor System Interface, and a Communication Relay, which are all transported on High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles. The support equipment for THAAD includes a missile round shipping set, missile round sling, and other ancillary equipment.

The THAAD system contributes to three of the four Joint Vision 2010 operational concepts: precision engagement, full-dimensional protection, and dominant maneuver forces. THAAD incorporates state-of-the-art technologies in its sensors, weapons, and BM/4I systems. Information superiority enables THAAD to operate autonomously or in a network receiving and exchanging data with PATRIOT, Aegis, and other theater air and missile defense systems and external sensors. The THAAD system will help ensure that Joint Forces enjoy full-spectrum dominance in the theater by being a primary contributor to full-dimensional protection of the dominant maneuver forces through precision engagement of longer range threat ballistic missiles.


The Gulf War demonstrated an immediate need for a system capable of defending large areas by intercepting and destroying TBMs. Recognizing that deficiency, the National Missile Defense Act of 1991 and the Defense Appropriations Act of 1991 established a requirement for a "deployable demonstration system" to provide highly effective TMD for forward-deployed U.S. and Allied Forces by the mid 1990s. A mature system with full capabilities is to be developed by the year 2000. To implement this requirement, Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to aggressively pursue advanced TMD options, with the objective of down-selecting and deploying such systems by the mid 1990s.

The near-term response to this requirement is the THAAD User Operational Evaluation System (UOES); the longer-term response is the THAAD objective system. The concept of UOES involves military personnel using prototype equipment to perform early operational assessments (EOAs), influence system design, and be available to deploy in a national emergency contingency operation. Currently, THAAD is in the Program Demonstration and Risk Reduction (PD&RR) phase and is approaching a Milestone II decision in FY99. The UOES will achieve its full initial contingency capability when the Army exercises the 40-missile procurement option in the PD&RR contract.

THAAD has an approved TEMP from Milestone I. The draft Milestone II TEMP is in staffing. The ORD is being updated and is in staffing to support the Milestone II decision.


The PD&RR phase of the THAAD program contains no operational tests. However, the Army and OSD T&E communities are participating early in the planning and execution of the PD&RR testing. OAs using the PD&RR data are planned to support key program decisions.

The THAAD PD&RR program consists mostly of technical tests and simulations conducted by the contractor according to government-approved test plans. The program's centerpiece is a series of flight tests that are being conducted at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), NM. The flight-test program progressively stresses the system as hardware and software mature through PD&RR phase testing. Data from the PD&RR testing are being used to validate models and simulations. These models and simulations are supporting the DT and OT system evaluations.

The program has attempted seven of the PD&RR flight tests:

During FY95, the program also conducted 15 static sled tests at Holloman AFB, NM, to study system lethality. A series of 10 quarter-scale, light gas-gun tests conducted at the University of Alabama–Huntsville to obtain more lethality information was completed in October 1996. These lethality tests provide the baseline for planning the formal LFT&E in the EMD phase. In 1996, DOT&E approved the THAAD live fire strategy.

The remaining PD&RR tests include six additional intercept attempts. The Milestone II criterion include three body-to-body intercepts. The Army plans to attempt the next intercept at WSMR in early 1998.


Because of technical difficulties, schedule delays, and fiscal considerations, the THAAD PD&RR program is deviating from what was approved in the MS I TEMP. The aggressive flight-test schedule proved to be overly ambitious. The technical problems encountered during testing, analysis, and corrective fixes resulted in program delays.

DOT&E has been very influential in shaping the investigations on the THAAD missile problems and defining the necessary corrective actions. We have reviewed the test data from the 7 flight tests completed to date. We participated in the detailed program review and failure investigations. Our investigation found that the missile failure modes are attributable to both design and manufacturing problems. At least one of these problems could have been found during ground testing, provided it had been adequate. Component-, subsystem-, and system-level preflight ground testing were found to be inadequate in several cases. There were decisions made by the PMO and the contractor to eliminate or reduce ground testing on the PD&RR missiles.

In response to the findings from the missile investigations, the PM and contractor re-evaluated the entire missile system design margins and ground testing program. As a result, several components and subsystems are being retested to verify the design. DOT&E is requiring that all practical testing, including hardware-in-the-loop simulation, be conducted on the interceptor hardware prior to each flight test. Thorough ground testing should uncover problems early and increase missile performance and reliability during flight testing.

In parallel to PD&RR phase, the MSI DAB directed the program to conduct a dual-seeker investigation. Analysis activities and laboratory testing during the seeker investigation show that Indium Antimonide (InSb) material for the focal-plane array is superior (increased sensitivity) to Platinum Silicide (PtSi), which is used in the seeker for the first seven flight tests. The PM plans to convert the seeker focal-plane array from PtSi to InSb for Flight Test #8.

The program is being reshaped and is still in flux. The PD&RR program will now comprise 13 total flights. The problems that THAAD is experiencing are not atypical for complex systems, particularly in the prototype phase, which THAAD is in now. The program office is aggressively finding and fixing problems; and it is commended for openly discussing them and implementing the test-fix-test approach. As was recognized by the Milestone I DAB, THAAD continues to be an aggressive, high-risk program.


Preflight checkouts of reliability and performance, including thorough hardware-in-the-loop and ground testing, are being re-emphasized. While The THAAD program has been touted as an event-driven program, testing up through Flight Test 7 has emphasized schedule over success, with less emphasis on missile reliability. The PM and the contractor are placing more emphasis on ensuring a reliable missile for Flight Test 8.

New program offices for complex programs like THAAD need to be adequately staffed with personnel with relevant previous program office experience. Many of the THAAD personnel had little or no applicable program office exposure prior to working for THAAD. Less experienced personnel could be brought into a new program office after a training program in an established office.