The United States military has announced that the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system in South Korea — designed to intercept incoming missiles from North Korea — is now officially operational.
China registered its opposition to the deployment of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defence system in South Korea and urged it to be stopped immediately.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system has reached an initial operating capability to defend against North Korean missiles.
According to China, THAAD’s radar could be used to spy into its territory.
THAAD uses radar to track when a ballistic missile is launched and then intercepts and destroys the missile before it descends onto its target.
China views THAAD as a threat to its own military operations — specifically in the South China Sea. China claims possession of the disputed region, which serves as a channel for half of the world’s shipping and which the rest of the world, including the United States, considers international waters. China’s claims on the sea stretch thousands of miles from the Chinese mainland.
THAAD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. It’s designed to detect and then intercept incoming ballistic missiles in their “terminal” phase — that is, when they’re on the way down, not on the way up.
It’s a system that’s already deployed in Guam, and it’s now being deployed in South Korea to protect against any incoming missiles from the North. China is well-known as a key ally and “big brother” of North Korea.
According to data from the US Missile Defense Agency, which conducts regular tests of US ballistic missile defense systems, the THAAD system has had 13 successful intercepts out of 13 attempts stretching back to 2006.
China is worried that THAAD’s radar system could potentially help the US better detect Chinese missiles being launched at the United States in the event of a future war.
But for the Chinese military, this means the US now has a slight edge. The Chinese military can’t put radar anywhere near that close to the US to detect incoming US nukes, which means that in a nuclear conflict, the US would have a slight strategic advantage — it would be able to detect an incoming Chinese nuke and respond faster than China could in the reverse.