U.S. THAAD to be improved and integrated with Patriot defense system in South Korea

The U.S. plans to allocate a large budget to the improvement of the performances of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and augment its interoperability with the Patriot (PAC-3) air defense missile system on the Korean Peninsula.

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THAAD launchers enter the US military base in Seongju, in 2017 (Picture source: YonHap)

THAAD is positioned in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province. Therefore, South Korea is concerned by the U.S. decision to allocate US$1 billion to improve the performance of THAAD systems in seven locations -- including the continental US, Guam, and Seongju -- and to purchasing Raytheon Patriot PAC-3 defense systems, Yoo Kang-moon reports. It also announced plans to mobilize THAAD launchers through remote operation and integrate the THAAD and Patriot systems.

The current THAAD battery in Seongju is designed to work as a single unit, with the radar and six launchers linked by cables. MDA Director Jon Hill said that “phase one” would be to “to extend [the operational radius of] or remote the launchers of THAAD.” “If you can separate the launchers away from the battery, that gives you a lot of flexibility on the peninsula,” he said.

The integrated operation of THAAD and Patriot missiles would signify a substantial reinforcement of the US missile defense system. Some are speculating that the THAAD radar in Seongju could be linked with the integrated US missile defense system encompassing the rest of the world, including China (Taiwan).