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Release No: 193-97
April 23, 1997


The Department of Defense announced today that two independent review teams examining the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system have completed their individual assessments and forwarded recommendations to senior officials of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, U.S. Army and other government agencies. The teams found that although THAAD has failed to intercept a target ballistic missile in four attempts, the THAAD design as a hit-to-kill interceptor is sound, as is the concept that THAAD will meet its operational requirements.

After the fourth intercept attempt, Air Force Lt. Gen. Lester L. Lyles, Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, chartered the U.S. Army's Program Executive Officer for Missile Defense to establish two independent review teams. A Systems Concept Team was established to review and evaluate the THAAD concept, including requirements and program baseline, and determine if the system design is sound and capable of meeting warfighter needs. The Missile Assessment Team, was chartered to review and evaluate the THAAD missile design to determine if it is capable of performing its intended mission, focusing on engineering design, quality assurance, system and subsystem testing and overall reliability. Recommendations from the two teams included:

* Conduct additional component testing during and after the missile assembly process, and with high- fidelity simulations of missile and system components

* Keep missile configuration consistent through the program Definition and Risk Reduction phase, including structural and electronics components

* Continue to ensure quality assurance procedures are followed throughout the production and assembly process

* Further refine concept of operations to best take advantage of available external cueing (target data and tracking provided by external sources, i.e., satellites, radars, etc.)

* Minimize the difference between User Operational Evaluation system (UOES) and objective system design, and incorporate new technologies proven in ground testing

The team's recommendations are now under evaluation by BMDO and the Army to assess implementation. The next THAAD intercept test was scheduled for this summer, but may be delayed until late this year in order to implement the recommendations.

For additional information, contact Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, BMDO External Affairs, at (703) 695-8743.

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