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USFK chief: THAAD to bolster capability against N. Korean missiles

All Headlines 14:07 August 02, 2017

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- The top American military commander in South Korea on Wednesday assured people here that the THAAD missile defense system will enhance the allies' defense against North Korean threats.

He cited another successful interception by a THAAD rocket of a medium-range ballistic missile in a test conducted in Alaska last weekend.

It "adds to the confidence I have in the THAAD system deployed to Seongju to defeat the North Korean threats against the Republic of Korea," said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who commands the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and the allies' Combined Forces Command.

He pointed out that it marked the 15th success in 15 trials for THAAD since the first operational testing in 2005.

"I do not know why anyone would doubt that it is capable of doing what we intended for it to do by deploying it here to Korea," Brooks said in a statement posted on the USFK's website.

A THAAD interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska during a flight test on July 30, 2017 in this photo provided by the Missile Defense Agency. (Yonhap)

He stressed the aim of THAAD here is to defeat incoming North Korean ballistic missiles threatening the South and his troops stationed on the peninsula.

Two THAAD interceptor launchers and a powerful X-band radar are already in operation at the new USFK base in Seongju, some 300 kilometers south of Seoul.

Four other launchers remain stored at a nearby USFK compound, with a THAAD battery requiring at least six launchers.

Shortly after the North's launch of its second intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered consultations with the USFK on the "temporary" deployment of the equipment.

The allies are reportedly in working-level discussions on the issue. The Moon administration said it would be a tentative installation because a final decision will be made after a full-scale environmental impact assessment expected to take at least several months.

A THAAD launcher is deployed at a former golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, in this file photo. (Yonhap)

The Pentagon said that it's prepared for a speedy installation.

"We are certainly ready to bring additional pieces in as quickly as we can," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, its spokesman, said earlier this week.

The USFK has not responded to a separate query about the schedule for that.

Utilizing hit-to-kill technology, the ground-based THAAD system is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the THAAD element provides a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.

THAAD is the acronym for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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