While the United States continues to urge North Korea to cease provocative threats and to comply with international obligations, the US Department of Defense will deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) ballistic missile defense system to Guam in the coming weeks “as a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat.” One unit has already been deployed defend against a possible North Korean launch, to Hawaii in 2009.
The THAAD system is a land-based missile defense system that includes a truck-mounted launcher, a complement of interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar, and an integrated fire control system. The missile carries no warhead but relies on the kinetic energy of the impact – using a hit-to-kill approach to shoot down ballistic missiles. Hence, the technology’s nickname “Kinetic Kill.” It cost $700 million in 2004 to develop THAAD. The UAE bought one (via Lockheed Martin) in 2011.