Soldiers just started training on it within the last couple of weeks. It's called the “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense” system, or THAAD for short. It gives the Army the ability to counter ballistic missile threats across the globe. The new facility includes classrooms and storage space for all the elements of the system.
The new system allows soldiers to detect their targets earlier. THAAD can go further and higher than any other current system in the Army's arsenal. Brigadier General Christopher Spillman says the answer is simple as to why they need the artillery system.
"Very simply, there's significant threats. Northeast Asia threats, predominately [North] Korea. As well as potential threats in the southeast Asia region, principally Iran," said Brig. Gen. Spillman.
The THAAD system is made up of five components: launchers, interceptors, radar, fire control and communication units, and support equipment. Officials say the radar is the "eyes" of the system. It's strong enough to detect a quarter in the earth's atmosphere. The launchers can shoot down any short, medium or intermediate range ballistic missiles.
Soldiers are not able to fire the missiles, but will once they are deployed on assignment. There are currently about 200 soldiers going through the training.
"This is the first step along a journey they will take to become members of a crew of an actual THAAD firing unit," said Brig. Gen. Spillman.
There is already one battery deployed to Guam using the THAAD system. The special part about the new center is that every soldier who will use the system on assignment will be trained through Fort Sill. Brigadier General Spillman says he has high expectations for the soldiers as this innovative system brings so much to the table.
"We will continue to do this mission very well. THAAD is a very important success story for the nation. It's a very sophisticated missile defense technology that has a lot of admirers among our commanders round the globe," said Brig. Gen. Spillman.
Training for the THAAD system ranges from three to ten weeks. Brigadier General Spillman says he believes other allies will soon get the THAAD system, as they are currently reviewing it.
The facility is named after the late Lieutenant General C.J. Levan, who attended officer candidate school at Fort Sill in 1942. He also later taught atomic weapons and nuclear design classes. The $30 million facility took about two years to complete.
Staff Sgt. Troy Young signals Spc. Zachary Floyd to lower a THAAD missle system.