Lockheed Martin to Make THAAD Missiles for Saudi Arabia
Matthew Greenwood posted on April 10, 2019 |

Saudi Arabia will purchase Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers, missiles and related equipment as part of a larger contract with the Pentagon. The Saudi government would pay $1.5 billion of the $2.4 billion contract.

Lockheed Martin’s THAAD system is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles both inside and just outside the atmosphere. Its interceptors track enemy missiles and destroy them on impact. Rather than using a warhead to counter another warhead, the system’s interceptor relies on force of impact to destroy its target—doing so at a high enough altitude to reduce or eliminate the threat to populations and key infrastructure from weapons of mass destruction.

The THAAD is a transportable missile system that can be deployed almost anywhere from the back of a heavy truck. The THAAD can be rapidly fired and reloaded, and its advanced radar surveillance and tracking technology, built by Raytheon, is the largest transportable x-band radar in the world.

Over its lifetime the THAAD has successfully intercepted 15 incoming missiles—giving it a 100 percent track record so far. Lockheed Martin recently upgraded its THAAD platform, improving its hit-to-kill technology, which increases the interceptors’ sensing ability, agility and accuracy.

Saudi Arabia’s order is the largest in THAAD history: 44 launchers, 360 missiles, and radar and control stations for seven batteries. Part of the contract will see Lockheed Martin upgrade Saudi Arabia’s current stock of THAADs, including its radar warning and communications infrastructure, as well as bases for the THAAD batteries. Lockheed will also train Saudi personnel to operate and maintain the systems.

Lockheed Martin in the Middle East.

The contract was awarded as a result of an agreement struck in November 2018 between the U.S. and its Middle East ally—shortly after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was reportedly murdered at a Saudi embassy in Turkey. Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government and his death, reported to have been ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has caused a public outcry and created tensions between the two allies.

Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest weapons makers in the world, already supplies THAAD systems to other U.S. allies in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Israel.

Read more about developments in missile technology at Russia Lures Buyers with S-400 Missile Alternative for Less.

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