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Pentagon says interceptor deployment is "just in case" type rollout

In recent months an increasingly bellicose North Korea has defiantly tested intercontinental ballistic missilesblew up trial nuclear warheadsscrapped a sixty-year-old armistice with the U.S. and its southern neighbor, and -- most recently -- restarted a mothballed nuclear reactor used in production of material for nuclear weapons.

As the threats from North Korea increase, the U.S. has deployed a truck-based, radar-driven interceptor missile system to Guam.  According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the system will protect the island territory of the U.S. if North Korea attempts to attack it with a ballistic missile, as threatened.  The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAADS) fires on a target rocket when it's in its terminal descent phase, plunging towards the defended territory.

The THAADS system is produced by top defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT).

The U.S. has deployed the THAADS interceptor trucks to Guam. 
[Image Source: Lockheed Martin]

While U.S. defense experts doubt North Korea would be able to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear missile, Guam -- 2,000 away from the hostile Asian dictatorship -- might be a slightly more feasible target.  Both South Korea and Japan have extensive interceptor systems, which are likely on high alert.

U.S. ally Israel provided the most impressive real-world demonstration of a missile-interception system to date.  Its "Iron Dome" system shot down approximately 9 out of 10 missiles that were headed towards a populated region.  Past interceptor systems used in the Persian Gulf conflicts by the U.S. had lower success rates.

Ballistic missile interception is a more unproven art.  Ballistic missiles are bigger (and hence a bigger target), but are also generally faster than the kind of small rockets Iron Dome or Patriot-missile (U.S.) interceptor systems target. Israel has an interceptor system of its own dubbed Arrow, which the U.S. co-founded and shares technology from.  Fortunately, that system has never been called upon in a real war scenario.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

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RE: Idiots
By M'n'M on 4/3/2013 10:59:55 PM , Rating: 3
THAAD rolled into that theater isn't to defend the US, it's really for our allies and friends. GBMD and the Navy's SM-3 and perhaps some other unmentioned systems can serve as defense for the CONUS.

But most of this is really political posturing. It's to indicate to whoever really runs the DPRK that the bargaining point is pretty high this time. I can only hope it's actually very, very, very high and Kim (or whoever) get's the message that extortion this time just isn't going to work anymore. Frankly I really wish that SK grows a pair and tells NK to shove it. That the next sinking or shelling or kidnapping or assassination of it's peoples is when they react with military force. The "war" would be over in short order, the DPRK would be no more and there would be no need for US troops in that area.

RE: Idiots
By Lord 666 on 4/4/2013 12:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
War with just NK, yes.

The street brawl that will actually follow if something goes down, no.

RE: Idiots
By skyward on 4/4/2013 12:53:15 AM , Rating: 2
It is all political posturing till we see the U.S flying the Airborne Laser to Japan. When a war is about to breakout, we want everything we have to shot down missiles.

RE: Idiots
By ianweck on 4/5/2013 8:03:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised this hasn't happened for any of NK's previous missile launches. I was thinking why not fly the airborne laser out there to test it out covertly? I wonder if their missile just exploded mid-flight, if NK would know why? I'm assuming the laser itself is invisible. This would be a riot, to watch NK scratch their heads.

RE: Idiots
By Justin Time on 4/4/2013 1:07:22 AM , Rating: 2
This is almost certainly an attempt to extort more aid and the dropping of sanctions.

This has been their approach in the past, and it's always worked, so why would they not expect it to work again?

Nevertheless, South Korea would be EXTREMELY reluctant to engage in any form of military force against the North, as they are fully aware that the North have more than enough conventional rockets, missiles and artillery available, to totally devastate Seoul within a matter of hours, and are just crazy enough to believe they could get away with it.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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