US soldiers 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment mission qualified THAAD missile system
U.S. soldiers of the Battery Echo, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade became the first unit to become mission qualified with the THAAD weapon system on Fort Hood. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles.
Bravo Battery, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade emplaced onto the new training area for a month long exercise to certify the battery and to prove that they are mission ready, September at Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Banzhaf, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s Public Affairs NCOIC)/Released
To be fully operational, the unit has to prove they have the ability to emplace their equipment and set up their site then be assessed then how well they can communicate effectively to track and destroy air-borne threats.
“First, our basic qualification tables certified the crews could accomplish their tactical mission for each individual section, whether its sensor, launcher or fire control,” said Capt. Christopher Easley, a New Braunfels, Texas native and battery commander. “The brigade then sent out an evaluator to certify the battery on mission qualified standards, which verifies that we are fully operational.”
Easley took command of the THAAD battery in earlier in the year when the unit only had conventional equipment such as their tactical vehicles. From March to September, the unit became fully equipped and mission ready.
It was a post-wide effort that led the battery to become the first THAAD battery to be deployable in the 69th ADA BDE. In June, construction was complete on the first training area in Central Texas capable of supporting the weapon system's training requirements. The Directorate of Public Works and III Corps worked with the brigade to establish a suitable area for the Soldiers to operate their powerful radar.
As the training area was being developed, the air defenders continued working towards the overall goal of becoming mission ready. Two things had to happen, get formal training on the equipment and obtain the weapon system.
“From January to April, Soldiers were going back and forth to Fort Bliss for their particular training, whether it was to learn fire control, learn how to work the launcher or operate the radar equipment,” said Easley. “All of the Soldiers got their training from the Missile Defense Agency and THAAD project officer at Fort Bliss.”
The 69th ADA BDE’s second THAAD battery is currently receiving its equipment and sending their Soldiers to train. Additionally, Bravo battery is using Echo’s experience and lessons learned to prepare for their mission qualifications.