The United States military has made contingency plans for deploying THAAD to the Korean Peninsula in an emergency, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.
According to an unnamed South Korean military source, the U.S. military will rapidly deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system from the U.S. to South Korea to bolster the South’s missile defense in an emergency situation. This follows an announcement made by United States Forces Korea (USFK) last Thursday which revealed that USFK conducted site surveys in South Korea to find suitable locations for THAAD batteries.
In an emergency situation, the U.S. military could deploy a THAAD battery from Fort Bliss, Texas, to South Korea within one day using C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, though it may take considerably longer for them to become fully operational. Each of the three known locations from the site survey – Busan, Pyeongtaek and Wonju – is home to a large military airfield, making these suitable locations for as rapid a deployment as possible.
The THAAD system is designed to intercept missiles during their terminal phase – that is, when the missile or warhead is making its descent toward the target. It is particularly suited to intercept incoming missiles at higher altitudes than other existing missile defense systems, such as the Patriot system. The Republic of Korea (South Korean) military current employs the PAC-2 variant of the Patriot system while USFK has PAC-3 batteries deployed in Korea.
The possibility of a THAAD deployment and even the precise locations of a potential deployment remain controversial issues. The U.S. and some members of the South Korean government and ruling Saenuri Party are in favor of deployment while others remain opposed. China and North Korea are also opposed to a THAAD deployment in Korea.
It is unclear at this time if the contingency deployment plan is a compromise from previous deployment proposals or if the U.S. military is still interested in a regular deployment of THAAD to South Korea.
Featured image: United States Missile Defense Agency
The United States military has made contingency plans for deploying THAAD to the Korean Peninsula in an emergency, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.According to an unnamed South Korean military source, the U.S. military will rapidly deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system from the U.S. to South Korea to bolster the South’s missile
John G. Grisafi is an analyst and Korean linguist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having previously worked as an analyst for the United States Army in South Korea and studied Korean at the Defense Language Institute, he is now majoring in East Asian Languages & Civilization and History at the University of Pennsylvania.