Lockheed Martin Corporation elated

by Marco Morales
Huntsville, Ala.

Lockheed Martin companies are in tensely involved with ballistic missile defense programs. And the first target intercept on June 10 of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, mis sile over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., has sent a ring of much antici pated excitement at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Space team.

“We are proud to be part of the government and industry team that has dem onstrated effective theater missile de fense is technically feasible,” said Tho mas A. Corcoran, president and chief operating officer of the Lockheed Mar tin Space & Strategic Missiles Sector, with headquarters in Bethesda, Md. “I am very pleased with our Missiles and Space unit based in Sunnyvale, Califor nia. The perseverance and dedicated effort by everyone on this team has re sulted in a successful test,” he said. “Given the growing theater ballistic missile threat, we feel a special respon sibility to be successful in developing and testing this vital weapon system,” said Ed Squires, THAAD vice president at Lockheed Martin. “The THAAD team has shown remarkable resolve and is now focused on achieving similar suc cess during the weapon system’s next flight test.”

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced Jan. 20 the Defense Department’s plans to allocate additional funds to National Missile Defense and Theater Missile Defense programs to meet the growing ballistic missile threats from rogue states to U.S. forces deployed overseas and to U.S. territory.

“We are affirming that there is a grow- ing threat and that it will pose a danger not only to our troops overseas, but also to Americans here at home,” said Cohen. “Ballistic missile defense is clearly vi- tal to our future — for our Corporation and for our nation,” said Dr. Mal O’Neill, vice president for mission success and operations for the Space & Strategic Mis- siles Sector, Lockheed Martin Corp. As a former lieutenant general in the Army, O’Neill served as director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization from 1993 to 1996.

“The need for effective ballistic mis- sile defense systems will continue to grow,” O’Neill said, adding, “That doesn’t mean meeting the challenge is going to be easy,” he said.

Two global events in ’98 increased the urgency of upper-tier theater missile defense, and served as a warning that missiles capable of reaching the United States from rogue nations are a growing threat: Development of intermediate- range missiles by North Korea, which fired a Taepo-Dong missile over Japan in August; and Iraq, which test fired a Shahab-3 in July.

These events have turned up the heat on all fronts of missile defense and dem- onstrated the need for the “family of sys- tems” approach being taken by the United States, which now has systems under development for air, land and sea. “Our missile defense architecture has been precisely designed and carefully planned to protect against the wide range of threats that exist today and will be developed in the future,” O’Neill said. “Each system has an important role, with the ultimate goal being a layered ap- proach that assures nothing can slip through our defenses.”

However, O’Neill stated that the same technology challenges, shifting political realities and changing threats that have characterized the history of ballistic mis- sile defense will continue to shape its future.

“As a corporation, we will be faced with many challenges,” he said. “We must be prepared to respond quickly to new opportunities, because they most assuredly will come.”

Infra-red imagery from the THAAD seeker shows THAAD closing with the HERA target during the successful June 10 flight test. The imagery shows THAAD zeroing in on a specific spot on the Hera target, a feat of incredible accuracy due to the high closing speed involved.