The U.S. Army has announced plans to make the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in Guam permanent. This would be the first permanent deployment of a THAAD battery outside the continental United States. The Army has released a fact sheet and draft environmental assessment about the proposed permanent basing and has already held two public meetings in Guam about it.
The THAAD battery was first deployed to Guam on an “expeditionary” basis in April 2013, following North Korean threats to the Island. The Google Earth image below shows the initial deployment of the THAAD battery’s TPY-2 radar and other equipment. (A THAAD battery consists of a TPY-2 X-band radar and associated equipment, a command and communications unit, and a number of truck-mounted launchers (typically as many as six) each of which can carry eight THAAD interceptors.)
The picture above, from February 2014, shows the original (“expeditionary”) deployment of the THAAD TPY-2 radar on Guam. The radar equipment is at the top of the image, just left of center. The antenna unit is the thinner object at the top. Immediately behind it is the electronic equipment unit. Perpendicular to and to the right of the electronic equipment unit is the cooling unit. Perpendicular to and to the right of the cooling units are two electrical power units. One or more of the three objects behind the power units may be additional THAAD equipment (truck-mounted missile launchers or the command and communications unit). Google Earth image, February 4, 2014.
The picture below, taken about six months later, shows that the entire radar unit has been moved about 200 meters south, onto a newly built concrete pad at the bottom of the picture. You can still see the “footprints” of the old site at the top of the picture. Under the newly announced plans, this will be the permanent location of the radar.
Google Earth image, August 3, 2014. The coordinates are 13.624 degrees north, 144.867 degrees east.
As shown in the slide below from an April 2015 briefing by MDA Deputy Director Brigadier General Kenneth Todorov, the U.S plans to have seven operational THAAD batteries by 2019, with three of these batteries forward deployed under regional combat commanders. Three batteries would be in the U.S. (likely at Fort Bliss, Texas) as a rotation/sustainment force, with the seventh battery available as “global response force.”
If, as now seems likely, the United States deploys a THAAD battery in South Korea, this would leave one battery available for permanent forward deployment elsewhere in the world.