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Lockheed Martin has closed a $2.54 billion contract to build missile defense rocket interceptors for the United States and Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) are asking Lockheed Martin to build Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors.

THAAD interceptors work by smashing into a warhead that’s high above the ground in an attempt to destroy the warhead. By using kinetic energy, THAAD interceptors rely on physical impact with the warhead so that the warhead can go off far away from any land. The systems are designed to shoot down short and medium range ballistic missiles and consists of 5 main units: the launchers, interceptors, a radar, the fire control and communications units, and special support equipment.

Development of the THAAD system began in 1992 by Lockheed Martin. Testing first began in 1995, but only in 1999 the first THAAD interceptors managed to hit their targets. 2008 was the year the THAADs were first deployed. THAAD missiles are capable of flying about 125 miles and are intended to hit warheads over 90 miles above the surface.


Lockheed Martin may be the main developer of the THAAD system but there are other companies involved in the development of several other components of the interceptors. Militaryaerospace.com reports that THAAD uses an X-band radar developed by Raytheon Co. as well as several other components being developed by Boeing, Aerojet, Rocketdyne, Honeywell, and others.

The $2.54 billion contract is a modification to the original $273.5 million contract awarded in 2017. Since then Lockheed Martin have received several modifications for the contract for extra orders of the system. The total sum of contracts is worth about $3.9 billion.

The $2.54 billion order is expected to be finished by April 2026.

The THAAD system is key to the U.S. ballistic missile defence systems in order to defend the United States, its forces, and its allies against ballistic missile threats of all sorts all over the world.