Context: China has issued a statement reiterating its long-standing objections to the presence of the US THAAD missile defence system in South Korea.

More on news:

  • China’s opposition came following reports of an overnight operation to bring in new, replacement interceptor missiles to the US base in South Korea.
  • China has been objecting to the defence system since it was first deployed in South Korea three year ago, causing a deterioration in ties between the two countries.


  • THAAD is an acronym for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a transportable, ground-based missile defense system. 
  • Missile defense systems are intended to safeguard a country against imminent ballistic missile attacks. 
  • THAAD is coupled with space-based and ground-based surveillance stations, which transfer data about the incoming missile and inform the THAAD interceptor missile of the threat type classification. 
  • THAAD is alarmed about incoming missiles by space-based satellites with infrared sensors.
  • This anti-ballistic missile defense system has been designed and manufactured by the US company Lockheed Martin.
  • It has been previously deployed in the UAE, Guam, Israel and Romania.

THAAD and S-400

  • Both THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and S-400 are missile defense systems, developed by the United States and Russia respectively. 



  • It has capability to intercept and destroy short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles at the range of 200 Km and altitudes of up to 150 Km.
  • The THAAD missile intercepts threats inside or outside the atmosphere during their final or terminal phase.
  • THAAD intercepts rockets amid their terminal period of flight like Patriot defense systems.
  • THAAD interceptors use hit-to-kill technology where the imminent threat is wrecked by kinetic energy and uses the largest Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2).
  • Speed : 10080 km/h-Mach 8.24
  • The THAAD launcher is truck mounted which makes it portable, capable of carrying up to eight interceptors
  • S-400 is a heavy hitter with a longer range of 400km.
  • It can also engage UAVs and in aircraft, it can engage fighters, AWACS, J-STARS, EA-6B support jammers.
  • It is the most advanced surface-to-air missile defense system. 
  • It can shoot down threatening aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.
  • Most importantly, it can simultaneously engage 80 targets which none other system is capable of.
  • Its response time is 9 seconds and missile attains the maximum speed of 15 Mach (15 times speed of sound) that is almost 5km/sec-  (17,000 km/h; 11,000 mph; Mach 14)
  • S-400 is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defense.

Deployment of THAAD in South Korea:

  • In South Korea, the THAAD missile defense system is operated by the US army stationed in the country. 
  • The US had previously announced that the deployment of this missile defense system was a countermeasure against potential attacks by North Korea, particularly after the country had engaged in testing ballistic missiles.
  • In 2017, matters escalated in the Korean Peninsula after North Korea test fired a few missiles in the direction of US bases in Japan. 
  • Following this incident, the US amended its plans and moved the systems to its army base in Osan, South Korea while the final deployment site was being prepared.