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Old 03-21-2017, 12:22 AM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 14,057
Originally Posted by XT View Post
...they seem to be rethinking the deployment of THAAD which has pissed off the Chinese so much. China is currently hammering South Korea pretty hard with trade sanctions and economic warfare to pound them back in line.
To be honest I've questioned the THAAD deployment myself. Obviously I don't have the full specs of THAAD since they're classified, but everything publicly known about THAAD is that it only works against medium range or long range missiles, in the terminal phase of a high altitude flight. The last publicized test it successfully shot down a medium range missile. My understanding is that short range missiles (North Korea doesn't need even medium range missiles to hit South Korea, it barely needs more than a slingshot) simply fly at too low an altitude and too short a path for THAAD to be any use. Something like the Patriot style system or its variants has shot down missiles of this type occasionally (but is useless against the high altitude/velocity missiles THAAD is designed to hit), but at least in theater the Patriot had a lot of misses too. I think it had (and this is disputed) either zero successes in Gulf War I, or one or two disputed successes, and a handful of successes at various points in the Bush era Iraq war, but a lot more failures than successes.

So the THAAD deployments we have on Guam and Hawaii...make sense, since anything in their region would be the sort of missile THAAD is designed to kill. One would arguably make sense in Japan, maybe, but Japan hasn't shown an interest in getting one.

But unless there's something I don't know about THAAD, it really does nothing to protect South Korea from North Korean missiles. What it does do is put a really freaking big and powerful radar array in Korea, that is so powerful it can actually track all the way into China. FWIW China hates this because it basically gives the U.S. a "leg up", in a theoretical nuclear exchange because we have earlier detection capability than China does versus us now.

Last edited by Martin Hyde; 03-21-2017 at 12:23 AM.