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Anti-missile system with components manufactured at Lockheed Martin in Lufkin operating in South Korea

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By STEVE KNIGHT/The Lufkin News

An American anti-missile system, whose components are manufactured in Lufkin, is now operating in southeastern South Korea, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday, citing a South Korean official.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense guided missile system, also known as THAAD, is manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division, which includes the company’s Lufkin facility.

The THAAD system has been set up at a converted golf course in Seongju and has “early capability” to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun told the AP.

The 250 employees at the company’s Lufkin facility perform circuit card assembly, wire harness assembly and final assembly, integration and testing for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense guided missile.

Fired from a truck-mounted launcher, the THAAD system is designed to intercept and destroy incoming targets, including ballistic missiles.

The deployment has triggered anger from Seongju residents, however, who fear North Korea may target their town and who worry about rumored health hazards linked to THAAD’s powerful radar.

The United States and South Korea say THAAD is crucial to counter North Korea’s weapons advances.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year alone, which experts say would have improved its knowledge for making nuclear warheads small enough to fit on missiles, and has been speeding up its development of new missiles, including solid-fuel rockets that can be fired from mobile launchers on land and from submarines.

The THAAD battery had originally been scheduled to enter operation by the end of the year, according to the AP. When completed, it will consist of six launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptors toward incoming missiles detected by the system’s X-band radar.

North Korea conducted another missile test on Saturday, its third launch in April, which reportedly failed soon after launch. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Monday the country will speed up measures to bolster its nuclear program “at the maximum pace.”

Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 12:30 am

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