News Briefings

DoD News Briefing

Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 2:10 p.m.
Presenter: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA


Q: Can I ask you a question about the THAAD test this morning? What happened with that test? Why was it scrubbed?

Mr. Bacon: The successful test has, in the simplest possible terms, which is about all I'm qualified to describe, has two components -- a target and a missile that launches to hit the target. In this case the target failed. Therefore, the THAAD missile was never launched.

The target, which was a Hera rocket, was supposed to at a certain point in its flight path, I believe, turn down. Instead, it began to tumble chaotically out of control. And although that would have made it a much easier target for the THAAD to hit, the people running the test decided not to launch, because they didn't think it would be an adequate or proper test of the THAAD.

Q: Should this be seen as another failure in the THAAD program?

Mr. Bacon: No. I think that would be inappropriate. What failed here was not the THAAD. That was never launched. What failed was another rocket.

It will take probably several weeks to figure out why that failed, because you can't have another test until you've figured out why the previous one failed. So my guess is that they'll go through a failure analysis as quickly as possible. They may be able to figure it out almost immediately -- I don't know -- or it may take some time to figure out why the rocket spun out of control. Once they figure that out, then they'll plan another test.

Q: Nevertheless, there were high hopes that this test might be the first real successful hitting of a missile with a missile. Is it frustrating, embarrassing, to have once again, have to put this off and try again another day?

Mr. Bacon: It's life. They will come back and try again. There are a series of tests that the THAAD program is working through, I think a total of 13. This was going to be number 10. We will have to reschedule number 10 and do it another time.

Q: Is it the contractor's responsibility , the Hera rocket, or is it someone else?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know. I suppose that will depend in part on what caused that. That's a good question, and I don't know the answer. It might depend in part on why the failure occurred. I don't think we know yet.

Q: Most of the THAAD problems have been with the interceptor itself. Was the targeting radar of THAAD on and functioning during the test, the thing that tracks the target?

Mr. Bacon: The radar has not been a problem. The radar has always worked well. I don't know whether the radar had been -- I assume the radar was on, but I don't know that for a fact. But the radar, as you correctly observed, has not been the problem. It's been the interceptor. Here the interceptor never got a chance to fly.