US starts THAAD deployment in South Korea

Seoul and Washington have started the controversial deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system here, with two missile launchers and other equipment arriving here Monday night.

The first batch of equipment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery landed at the U.S. air base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, on a C-17 transport aircraft, the defense ministry and the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Tuesday.

The equipment will stay at an undisclosed location until a golf course in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, is ready to host the battery.

The delivery of the remaining equipment and operational personnel will follow gradually to fulfill the alliance decision on the deployment made in July last year.

A THAAD battery consists of six truck-mounted launchers, 48 interceptors (eight per launcher), a fire control and communications unit, and an AN/TPY-2 radar.

“Work to deploy THAAD has begun,” a ministry official said, declining to be named. “South Korea and the United States will deploy the system at the earliest possible date.”

Sources said the anti-missile battery would be deployed in two months if the rest of the parts are moved in smoothly, with the unit going operational as early as April.

The system was initially expected to be installed after June.

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