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Missile Defense Misconceptions: THAAD in California Case Study

Why is proper consulting important? Not only can it save tremendous amounts of money, it can spare massive embarrassment as well. Consider the following articles:

In 2017, in response to North Korea's string of ballistic missile launches, U.S. Congress considered deploying multiple THAAD missile defense systems along the West Coast of the United States to defend against North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). THAAD, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is designed to defend against short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles. Any missile that North Korea would launch from its territory toward the continental United States would have to be an ICBM-class missile, due to the distance it would need to travel. North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) would not be able to reach the West Coast if launched from North Korea. Employing THAAD along the West Coast of the United States would not only be completely ineffective and excessively expensive, but also impossible due to the limited number of THAAD systems available. Even if a North Korean ICBM was launched directly at a THAAD system in California, the THAAD system does not have the capability to successfully engage it. The only weapon system designed to defend the United States against ICBMs is Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), which was in place in 2017 and remains so today.

A brief consultation with experts could have provided these answers to the public figures involved, preventing their confusion and miscalculations prior to any effort being expended on planning for this unrealistic scenario.


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