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THAAD – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense


The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, abbreviated as THAAD, is a missile defense system designed to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles in their final flight phase. First proposed in 1987 and deployed in 2008, THAAD doesn’t serve as an offensive weapon against an enemy. Instead, it uses a powerful radar to track and destroy missiles before they can be launched.

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What is THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense)?

THAAD, short for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, was originally called Theater High Altitude Area Defense System. It’s a crucial part of America’s defense against short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This system works by intercepting ballistic missiles in their last phase of flight. Unlike traditional methods, THAAD doesn’t use explosive warheads; instead, it relies on its own kinetic energy to take out incoming missiles.


In 1987, the concept of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was initially proposed. Following the stark realization prompted by Iraq’s Scud missile strikes during the Gulf War in 1991, Lockheed Martin, a renowned American aerospace company, undertook the development of THAAD.

Fast forward to January 17, 2022, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), THAAD achieved a significant milestone. During an attack by Houthi militants in Abu Dhabi, THAAD successfully intercepted and neutralized a mid-range ballistic missile. This marked the system’s first operational interception, showcasing its effectiveness in real-world scenarios.


The THAAD system uses kinetic energy to destroy incoming missiles. It does not carry a warhead, so it does not explode. This reduces the risk of explosion of the conventional warhead ballistic missile. A nuclear-tipped ballistic missile does not explode on impact. But a biological or chemical warhead could explode and contaminate the environment.

Which Countries have THAAD?

THAAD is an American-based missile system. However, a number of countries have expressed interest in deploying this new missile defense system.

Sl. No.Name of the Country
1United State of America
2United Arab Emirates
5South Korea

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