DOT&E Director, Operational Test & Evaluation  
FY98 Annual Report
FY98 Annual Report


Army ACAT ID Program: Prime Contractor
Total Number of Missiles:1,233Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space
Total Program Cost (TY$):$13,940MSunnyvale, CA
Average Unit Cost (TY$):$11.3MService Certified Y2K Compliant
Full-rate production:FY08Yes - Initial Operational Capability


The Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a ground-based theater missile defense system designed to protect forward-deployed military forces, population centers, and civilian assets from the entire spectrum of theater ballistic missile attacks. THAAD negates incoming ballistic missiles utilizing hit-to-kill technology (i.e., kinetic kill vehicle) and will be capable of intercepting them in either the endoatmospheric or exoatmospheric. As a core element of the Family of Systems Layered Defense Architecture, it provides upper-tier missile defense in concert with the lower-tier systems: PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), and Navy Area Theater Missile Defense System.

The THAAD system is comprised of mobile launchers, missile interceptors, radar, and battle management/command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (BM/C4I) units. The launch system is a modified U.S. Army palletized loading system truck that is equipped with a missile-round pallet. The interceptor consists of a single-stage, solid-fuel booster, which employs thrust vector control technology for boost-phase steering, and a separating kill vehicle that uses an infrared seeker and divert thrusters for terminal guidance and control. The THAAD radar is a solid-state, X-band, phased-array antenna that performs early warning, threat-type classification, and interceptor fire-control functions. As the communications link between the BM/C4I and interceptors, it also delivers navigational information to the kill vehicle that is used for mid-course guidance. The THAAD BM/C4I segment manages and integrates all THAAD components to control the THAAD weapon system. Its major components are the Tactical Operations Center, the Sensor System Interface, and the Communications Relay, which are transported on High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles.

THAAD embodies Joint Vision 2010's operational concepts of dominant maneuver, precision engagement, and full-dimensional protection: THAAD is a mobile, integrated system of elements that provides responsive command and control to locate and engage attacking tactical ballistic missiles. Information superiority enables THAAD to operate within a communications network, receiving and exchanging data with external sensors, PAC-3, Navy Area, and other theater air and missile defense systems. Furthermore, THAAD is designed to respond rapidly to military crises and, therefore, incorporates the fourth operational concept—focused logistics.


The Gulf War demonstrated an immediate need for an effective, dedicated missile defense system capable of countering ballistic missile attacks. Recognizing this need, Congress passed the National Missile Defense Act of 1991 and the Defense Appropriations Act of 1991, which established the requirement for a "deployable theater missile defense demonstration system" for forward-deployed U.S. and Allied Forces by the mid 1990s. A mature system with full capabilities was to be developed by the year 2000. To implement this requirement, Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to aggressively pursue advanced theater missile defense options, with the objective of downselecting and deploying such systems by the mid 1990s.

The long-term response to this requirement is the development and eventual deployment of the THAAD ‘objective' system. The THAAD User Operational Evaluation System was to have been the demonstration system. The demonstration system concept used prototype equipment to perform early operational assessments and for deployment in the event of an emergency contingency operation. In the recent restructuring of the THAAD acquisition program, the User Operational Evaluation System concept has been revised into a risk reduction/contingency effort. This program restructure adds a step in the development of the interceptor that decreases the risk of the missile entering the EMD phase. A Milestone II decision is currently scheduled for FY00 but is subject to change given the fluidity of the program.

The Program Management Office and contractor are addressing the Y2K issues with each THAAD systems segment. THAAD system Y2K compliance will be tested in both technical and operational tests as the system matures. The plan is for each system's segment to be Y2K compliant at its Initial Operational Capability.

The current THAAD TEMP was approved to support Milestone I. The draft Milestone II TEMP staffing is on hold pending program restructuring. The Army is updating the Operational Requirements Document to support the Milestone II decision.


The THAAD Program Definition and Risk Reduction phase contains no operational tests. However, the Army and OSD T&E communities are participating early in the planning and execution of the Program Definition and Risk Reduction phase testing. Operational assessments will be prepared to support key program decisions.

The THAAD Program Definition and Risk Reduction T&E program consists of digital simulations, element ground testing, hardware-in-the-loop testing, and system flight-testing. Flight-testing is the centerpiece of the T&E program and is conducted at White Sands Missile Range. Each flight test is designed to collect system-level data to ascertain system performance and evaluate the key technical parameters. The flight tests are designed to provide data to assess kill vehicle seeker technology and intercept capability. They also generate in-flight environmental and "endgame" data that could ultimately lead to improvements in the system design. The data are also used to validate models and simulations that support system evaluations.

The program has completed eight of the thirteen Program Definition and Risk Reduction flight tests. Of the eight, the most recent five were intercept attempts (i.e., make body-to-body contact with the ballistic missile target). All five failed to achieve an intercept.

The remaining five Program Definition and Risk Reduction tests are one-on-one intercept attempts for a variety of engagement scenarios. Flight Test-9, a repeat of Flight Test-8, is planned for February 1999. The principal Milestone II criterion to exit Program Definition and Risk Reduction is the successful execution of three body-to-body intercepts within a specified region on the re-entry vehicle.

LFT&E (Lethality). There were no new accomplishments in the THAAD lethality program in the last year. During FY95, the program conducted 15 sled tests at Holloman Air Force Base, NM, to study system lethality. A series of ten quarter-scale light-gas gun tests were conducted at the University of Alabama--Huntsville to obtain more lethality information. The gas gun tests were completed in October 1996. These lethality tests provide the baseline for planning the formal LFT&E in the Engineering, and Manufacturing Development phase. In 1996, DOT&E approved the THAAD live fire strategy.


The Program Management Office held a Critical Technical Readiness Review in July 1997. Subsequent to the Critical Technical Readiness Review, DOT&E formally identified to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), a number of problems in the areas of design, product quality, and product assurance and test, which needed to be addressed more thoroughly. This resulted in the THAAD program suspending flight testing for 14 months while the missile design, pedigree, and product assurance and testing program were all reviewed by the contractor and an independent government team sponsored by the THAAD program. Also, during this time frame, DOT&E, BMDO, and DTSE&E, co-sponsored the Welch Panel, chaired by General Larry Welch (USAF Ret.). The Welch Panel, an independent group of senior experts from both the public and private sectors, conducted a comprehensive review of BMDO acquisition programs searching for obvious problem areas. The following factors are deemed as most relevant in explaining the inadequate performance of the THAAD system:

DOT&E was the key influence that persuaded the THAAD program to conduct missile seeker testing in the Army's high fidelity hardware-in-the-loop simulation facility at Redstone Arsenal, AL. Despite initial resistance from the program (due to schedule and hardware constraints), DOT&E convinced the THAAD Program that pre-flight hardware-in-the-loop testing of the seeker was essential prior to Flight Test-8 and subsequent flight tests. BMDO supported the DOT&E initiative and subsequently published a policy requiring all acquisition programs to conduct high fidelity hardware-in-the-loop simulation on their seekers. Nonetheless, even more thorough ground testing at the THAAD missile subsystem and system-level is needed. DOT&E continues to work with BMDO and the THAAD program on this issue.

DOT&E was also instrumental in getting the Army to convert the high risk User Operational Evaluation System acquisition approach into a risk reduction/contingency program. The new program emphasizes development of the interceptor first and deployment of missiles with demonstrated capability second. The end result will be a better-designed, more robust, higher quality missile if needed for either contingency deployment or for the objective missile system.

Prior to the flight test program, two Simulated HOT Launch tests, which are tests to prove canister design and function, resulted in a fire that had to be extinguished. After Flight Test-1 also resulted in a fire, a canister Radial Support Group (RSG) redesign was initiated. Flight Test-2 and 3 still used this original design. The original RSG design used teflon covered urethane foam. Although this foam was fire retardant certified, it supported combustion due to aluminum oxide in the plume byproducts eroding and imbedding into the foam. On Flight Test-4, this redesign consisted of covering the RSG with a chloroprene sheet leaving no exposed foam. This canister supported combustion because the chloroprene was an inferior lot (cotton reinforced). The plume eroded the chloroprene and exposed the foam. Flight Test-5 through -7 incorporated chloroprene RSG (nylon reinforced). These canisters supported combustion because the lap seams in the chloroprene were structurally inadequate, allowing the booster plume to impinge on the foam. Flight Test-8 used the first canister without chloroprene lap seams. This canister did not support combustion. Flight Test-9 will also use the Flight Test-8 design. It appears that they have found a satisfactory fix for the combustion problem. However, we will continue to watch the problem closely since it is a serious potential safety problem to both personnel and the system.


Return to Table of Contents