US has achieved a giant leap towards enhanced interoperability between THAAD and Patriot missiles by successfully testing the integration of two ultimate missile systems. The test which showed successful integration of communication between the two missile platforms was conducted at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
The Missile Defence Agency has thus stated that the tests have authenticated the communication between the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) and the Patriot system using tactical data. There were no firing interceptors but only a THAAD-linked (AN/TPY-2) X-band radar and a short-range Lynx missile as the target being tracked by the Patriot system.
Both systems comprise necessary parts of the US layered ballistic missile system of defence and thus it is imperative for them to communicate and relay data among one another. US Army has six THAAD launchers at South Korea which could thus be a potential site for using the interoperability. The long-term of the US Missile Defence Agency is to completely integrate Patriot and THAAD in next few years. Any future tests will thus span lower altitude threats with Patriot with live interceptors like PAC-3 and high-altitude interception of long-range threats.
THAAD and China
China which had raised concerns about the deployment of THAAD on the Korean Peninsula will be further alarmed at the news as it can be a direct hit on the strategic deterrent of China in the region. China has repeatedly expressed displeasure over the deployment of THAAD in South Korea and stated that the move can severely jeopardise the security relations between China and South Korea. THAAD has high strategic significance and as Chinese side has stated that such deployments in neighbourhood elicit a similar response as it considers them to be an outrageous attempt the undermine the stability of China. US has asserted from time to time that THAAD is solely focused on the North Korean nuclear threat.
China has also started deployment of its most potent contenders to counter and escape THAAD – the HGVs or the Hypersonic Glide Vehicles which form part of an upcoming category of ultra-fast weapons and MIRVs which are highly difficult to intercept even if detected early as multiple warheads are emitted from one MIRV in last minutes of its descent.
China will not stop at these and THAAD deployment will snowball into a full-scale deployment of hypersonic weaponry by China soon. It will strive to improve its ability to outweigh the defences of ballistic missiles.