U.S. Patriot, THAAD Missile Systems Integration Tests Failed

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  • 10:13 AM, April 30, 2021
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U.S. Patriot, THAAD Missile Systems Integration Tests Failed
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

Two tests aimed at integrating Patriot and THAAD missile systems conducted by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency last year, have failed.

In a report published earlier this week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the Army carried out two out of a planned nine flight tests in the fiscal year 2020 designed to make the Patriot system launch an interceptor using a THAAD AN/TPY-2 radar. The remaining tests were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first test, named FTX-39, the primary objective was a simulated PAC-3 MSE intercept of a threat representative short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) target utilizing Patriot Launch-on-Remote (THAAD). However, the range safety team terminated the Army-supplied Black Dagger target after a software error caused it to drift outside of acceptable flight safety boundaries. The termination occurred prior to the THAAD AN/TPY-2 radar acquiring the target. Consequently, THAAD and Patriot did not collect data on the target. MDA declared this a no-test, the GAO report said.

In the second test, named FTP-27 E2, the primary objective was a live intercept of a threat representative SRBM target with two PAC-3 interceptors utilizing Patriot Launch-on-Remote (THAAD). The interceptors failed and a subsequent Army failure review board found the root cause was that the compact disk used to update the two interceptors was missing a portion of the necessary software. According to MDA, the test still successfully demonstrated the Patriot Launch-on-Remote (THAAD) capability despite the failed intercept. Specifically, MDA officials noted that Patriot received the remote track data from THAAD’s AN/TPY-2 radar, developed a firing solution, launched its interceptors, detected and correlated with the remote track, and provided guidance uplinks. Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) concurred that the test demonstrated this capability, while BMDS OTA officials stated the significance of the test failure was low with regard to the operational force and future of Patriot Launch-on-Remote (THAAD).

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