Riki Ellison, President of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (http://www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org) announced today that yesterday’s “successful intercept test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system demonstrates confidence in our country’s missile defense systems and will further dissuade Iran and North Korea from seeking to coerce and threaten with ballistic missiles.” This intercept is the sixth successful missile defense test in the last 10 months, which collectively represents all of our current near terms systems; the Ground Based Interceptors, the Sea Based Interceptors, and the land mobile based interceptors to include the Patriot 3 and THAAD missile defense systems.

The missile defense intercept occurred today at 2:47 a.m. EDT at the Pacific Missile Test Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The THAAD interceptor launched one of its defensive missiles from PMRF in Kauai and intercepted a single stage “SCUD”-type ballistic missile inside the earth’s atmosphere. The target was launched over the horizon from a sea-based mobile platform representing a realistic asymmetrical threat off the coast of Kauai in the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the THAAD intercept test used integrated and real time over the horizon communications between other deployed missile defense systems including the SBIRS space satellite, an Aegis ship, and our Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications System. “This clearly represents a realistic operational test that involves a multitude of our current missile defense systems working together in a realistic threat scenario,” said Ellison. It is of note that three countries have tested ballistic missiles launched from sea-based platforms, Iran being one of them.

This was the third successful intercept for the current THAAD program, the forty-fifth successful missile defense intercept since 1999 which equates to 81% success rate for all systems.

Ellison believes that “Our nation’s success with missile defense testing sends confidence to our Administration and Congress to continue to deploy and develop these systems so necessary to protect our population and to counter those nations seeking to develop ballistic missiles.”

The THAAD system is a part of the layered-defense in which it intercepts an incoming missile in the terminal phase between the upper atmosphere and lower space to defend wide regional areas. The current deployed ground-based interceptors and the Aegis sea-based interceptors intercept in higher space while the theater Patriot 3 systems intercept in the lower atmosphere. THAAD deployments could begin as early as 2008 with four batteries having been requested in the FY 2008 budget. The THAAD batteries will most likely be deployed to Korea, Europe, and the United States. Placement of the THAAD in Turkey and Greece could supplement the current proposed third European interceptor base to fully protect all of Europe and our armed forces there.

Ellison also pointed out that Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said in a recent hearing “In the final analysis, we as Congress and the Administration are all responsible for protecting the American people and our deployed forces against missile threats.”

In closing, Ellison congratulated the Department of Defense and the Missile Defense Agency. “The successful of testing THAAD is outstanding, and we at MDAA applaud the Department of Defense and the MDA team.”

Riki Ellison is available for interviews on THAAD and any aspect of our nation’s missile defense system. Call Chris Marks at 703 299-0062.