WASHINGTON, 20 March 2011. Ballistic missile defense experts at the Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, Calif., will arm two U.S. anti-ballistic-missile batteries with interceptor rockets and ground-support equipment to safeguard the United States from ballistic missile attack under terms of a potential $695 million contract announced Friday from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Washington.
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will provide 48 interceptor missiles and ground-support equipment for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program, batteries three and four, under terms of the contract.
The U.S. Army has already activated the first two THAAD missile batteries -- one in 2008 and the other in 2009 -- which are based at Fort Bliss, Texas. The THAAD missile defense system is intended to shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles launched toward the United States or its allies.
Each THAAD battery is to have 24 missiles -- three launchers and a fire control communications system, including an X-Band radar. The 18-foot-long THAAD missile weighs 1,400 pounds, and has a range of 125 miles.
Powering each THAAD missile is a single-stage solid-propellant rocket motor with thrust vectoring. After burnout, the booster separates from the missile's kill vehicle, and the kill vehicle continues to its incoming ballistic missile target. THAAD missiles can function inside or outside of Earth's atmosphere.
Guiding the kill vehicle section of the THAAD missile is an indium antimonide staring infrared focal plane array sensor. The kill vehicle itself has no explosive warhead and destroys the target by direct impact.
Lockheed Martin got its first contract to produce the first 48 THAAD missiles and support equipment in 2007. Lockheed Martin will manage work on the latest batch of 48 missiles in Sunnyvale, Calif., and will do final assembly in Troy, Ala.