Behind every success there is a historyby Sharon Watkins-Lang
(Watkins-Lang is a historian in the command’s Research Branch.)
- September 1988 – The command received the go-ahead for a theater missile program.
- January – October 1989 – A Systems Requirements Study was conducted.
- August 1990 – Concept Definition contracts were awarded to Sparta, Lockheed, and MDSSC.
- September 1990 – Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, entered into a 13-month concept definition phase. The THAAD is the first weapon system to be developed specifically to defend against theater ballistic missiles.
- March 1993 - Design revised to produce a “larger kinetic-kill interceptor and a more powerful rocket booster.”
- July 1994 – Ribbon cutting ceremony for the THAAD missile assembly facility at Courtland, Ala.
- November 1994 – Aerojet was awarded a two-year, $15.9 million contract to develop a gel propellant divert and attitude control system for the THAAD.
- April 1995 – First test of the THAAD postponed due “glitches” in the pre-test preparation. This test was itself postponed from March 31, that time at the request of the White Sands Missile Range.
- April 1995 – First test of the THAAD. The launcher and the missile met all of their test objectives, in this flight test. This flight was a test of the rocket motor, flight controls and warhead separation. There are 13 tests planned for the THAAD missile system.
- July 1995 - Second test focused on missile guidance and control system, to ensure that the missile receives target updates from the radar. Test was terminated due to excessive speed, but three of the four goals were achieved.
- October 1995 – Third test of the THAAD. The primary objective was the collection of seeker data. Its seeker collected data on the Storm target in the acquisition and track modes, accomplishing all the goals of the second test and additional objectives.
- December 1995 – Fourth test was the first planned intercept test of the system. Due to a software error, the system failed to intercept the Storm target.
- March 1996 – Fifth test of the THAAD, second intercept attempt. This was the first test to involve all of the THAAD components. The missile was launched from the THAAD palletized load system launcher. During this test, a lanyard malfunctioned and reset the avionics computers, as a result the THAAD did not succeed in its primary objective - to intercept the HERA target.
- July 1996 – Sixth test of the THAAD, third intercept attempt. The goal of this test was to intercept the Hera in the high endo-atmosphere. Problems with the focal plane array overloaded the system and prevented target identification.
- March 1997 – Seventh test of the THAAD, fourth intercept attempt. The DACS motors did not operate as designed, as a result the missile was not able to maneuver.
- March 1998 – COLSA Corporation received a $89 million contract for independent verification and validation of software for the THAAD system.
- May 1998 – Eighth test of the THAAD, fifth intercept attempt. A short circuit in the thrust vector control mechanism forced the THAAD missile to self-destruct in the boost phase.
- May 1998 – The Army issued a cure notice requiring a solution to the missile test failures. This notice could lead to a contract termination. Lockheed Martin responded, in part, with an offer to assume some of the cost risk.
- September 1998 – On the 18 th , the THAAD Radar successfully tracked a NASA rocket launch (a Terrior/Black Brant) at White Sands Missile Range. On the 24 th , the radar system tracked an Air Force and Army rocket demonstration for over four minutes.
- March 1999 – Ninth test of the THAAD, sixth intercept attempt. In this test, the interceptor came within 30 meters of the target. The error was attributed to a failure of one of the attitude control motors.
- May 1999 – Tenth test of the THAAD, seventh intercept attempt. Test was postponed due to problem with the target.
- May 1999 – Lockheed Missiles and Space Corp. was assessed a $15 million penalty for not achieving a hit during the intercept test on March 29. Lockheed Martin’s contract makes them liable for failures that result from malfunctions in their system.
- June 1999 – Tenth test of the THAAD, seventh intercept attempt. Test was postponed due to commercial power outage at the White Sands Missile Range, NM.
- June 1999 – Tenth test of the THAAD, seventh intercept attempt. The THAAD successfully intercepted a Hera target missile at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.