Lockheed Expects THAAD Test By Month’s End
By KATE BRANNEN – After target problems led to the cancellation of a December flight test, the U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is gearing up for its next test at the end of June, according to Lockheed Martin officials.
The program has suffered several target failures that prohibit the flight tests from taking place, said Shirley Gray-Lewis, Lockheed’s director for THAAD business development.
The last target failure occurred in December at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. Coleman Aerospace provided the faulty target, which was launched from a C-17 airlifter.
After that test, the Missile Defense Agency decided to stop buying targets from Coleman, owned by L-3 Communications, Aviation Week reported in May.
The objectives of that failed test will be rolled into a future test, said Gray-Lewis.
In the future, the system will be tested against many targets at one time. In flight test 12, two interceptors will be used on two targets, she said.
There have been 10 successful flight tests to date. Six were designed to include intercepts and all of those were successful, according to Gray-Lewis. Flight test 10 was the most complex test to date, with a second interceptor taking out a piece of large debris from the initial impact of the first interceptor with the target.
The U.S. Army is expected to approve a materiel release for THAAD in the second quarter of fiscal year 2011. This is a big milestone for the program and should lead to more international interest, said Gray-Davis. It demonstrates the Army has tested the system and has deemed it ready for deployment, she said.