Air and missile defense is one of the U.S. Army’s six modernization priorities. Based on current funding profiles, it is the number one priority, receiving about half the total funding the Army plans to spend on its priorities between 2020 and 2024. With all the money and attention the Army is devoting to getting new and improved air and missile defense capabilities into the field, why isn’t it moving aggressively to leverage the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), its most capable system? THAAD alone provides the theater commander with an air deployable, fast reaction defense against short and medium range missiles. Despite the identified evolution of the threat and the obvious growth potential for the THAAD, it is the one theater missile defense system without a funded block upgrade program. It is the only currently deployed missile defense system with a plausible growth path to address the advanced threat posed by hypersonic weapons and maneuvering warheads. There needs to be a serious well-funded effort to develop the THAAD follow-on, with an eye on the advanced threats. I have written about THAAD for RealClearDefense here.
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