North Korea Testing Tactics to Defeat THAAD and Patriot
North Korea's series of ballistic missile launches that began in 2016 aren't only intended to strike fear into South Korea and the United States, but are also dress rehearsals for tactics that can evade the U.S. THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) system and the MIM-104 Patriot a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.
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The Congressional Research Service (CRS), the think tank of the U.S. Congress, said in a report that North Korea launched some ballistic missiles last year that sought to avoid interception by being boosted to very high altitudes.
As a result, a missile warhead will descend at a steeper angle and at a much faster speed, "making it potentially more difficult to intercept with a missile defense system."
Another North Korean tactic was to salvo launch more than two missiles simultaneously.
"North Korea has also demonstrated an ability to launch a salvo attack with more than one missile launched in relatively short order.
"This is consistent with a possible goal of being able to conduct large ballistic missile attacks with large raid sizes, a capability that could make it more challenging for a missile defense system to destroy each incoming warhead," said the report.
A third tactic saw North Korea launch a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) outside the range of the radar systems of both THAAD and Patriot.
CRS argues that North Korea's unrelenting test launches "may be intended to increase the reliability, effectiveness and survivability of their ballistic missile force."
THAAD is "designed to counter mass raids" by launching up to 72 interceptors from one battery against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles," claims Lockheed Martin, the missile system's maker.
The U.S. Army has deployed an entire THAAD battery and its advanced radar system that can peer deep inside North Korea and China at a golf course south of Seoul. A second THAAD battery will be deployed in 2018.