Warfare is often like a game of rock-paper-scissors. For every new weapon developed, a counter weapon follows; each player needs to carefully balance and ensure their opponent do not develop a power play which has no counter. But with the start of the cold war, and the invention of the nuclear bomb, this ever-evolving game of rock-paper-scissors has deteriorated into a game where each player stock piles rocks, and develops new ways to hurl them at their opponent. Technology has only recently progressed far enough to develop a legitimate countermeasure like the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, aka THAAD, by the US. Today we’re going to investigate how this technology works and how likely it is to stop a nuclear threat against the United States With North Korea’s recent thermal nuclear hydrogen bomb tests and the continued experimentation of short and long range missiles, the world has been on edge. South Korea has even deployed both THAAD and Patriot systems despite push back from China. So how do we stop a hypothetical ICBM incoming from North Korea? Countermeasures have been developed by many of the world’s powers, though they are not as sophisticated as perhaps you would expect, and that’s for two reasons. One, because in 1972 the United States and Soviet Union signed an Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty which was designed to limit the development and deployment of these defensive countermeasures, and the US only withdrew from the treaty to protect the US from nuclear blackmail from rogue states like Iran And North Korea and two, because IBCMs are really, really, hard to intercept. To counter these threats, the US has contracted the top Military engineering groups to develop and maintain an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System, or BNDS. The system integrates independent short, medium, and long Range Missile defense systems, such as Patriot, AEGIS, and THAAD into one communication network. They are integrated and supported by a battery of land and sea-based sensors, such as infrared satellites and X-Band radar. But all have a common communication line to the command center. This allows new radar systems or mobile Navy vessels with sensors and interceptors to be seamlessly incorporated if they are in the region. There are three main phases of an ICBM, the boost phase, Mid-Course phase, and Terminal phase. Each phase have different challenges in terms of interception. During the boost phase, the US would first detect heat signatures from a launch with infrared satellites, and communicate this to the Command Center. Regional radar would pick up the missiles and provide accurate tracking. All of this data is processed, and a trajectory probability map Is built and continuously updated throughout the course of the flight. Interception at this point is not likely as the target is in enemy airspace, and most interceptors are not fast enough to reach the target before it enters the Mid-Course phase in the upper atmosphere in space. With the two or three stage ICBM the boost phase can last under ten minutes, and propel the vehicle to an altitude of around 1,200 Kilometers above the surface of the Earth, or three times higher than the orbit of the International Space Station. At this point the projectile can be traveling as fast as seven kilometers per second, or twenty to twenty-five times the speed of sound, meaning a capable missile can travel halfway around the planet in about 45 minutes or less. If AEGIS sea-based or other ground-based interceptors are in range, short to intermediate range missiles targeting Japan, South Korea, or Guam can be intercepted by the AEGIS kinetic kill vehicle, meaning It physically intercepts the warheads with a kinetic impact. It accomplishes this with thrusters which allow it to maneuver in the final phase of engagement. This is not an easy task as the system must attempt to discriminate threats within the threat cloud the trek cloud consists of active warheads Decoys and debris in the case of North Korea it’s unlikely multiple warheads would be used due to the size and weight constraints, but some primitive decoys are more than likely. The terminal phase is when the warheads begin to re-enter the atmosphere towards their targets. The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense or THAAD is a long-range missile defense system that targets missiles at this stage with installations on the west coast of the United States, Alaska, Guam, and more recently South Korea. Similar to the Aegis the THAAD kill vehicle is a kinetic kill vehicle with four miniature boosters to control the projector During recent tests, this platform has been successful But an engineer’s work is never complete. The US was working on a new interceptor dubbed the MKV or Multiple Kill Vehicle. incorporating a more advanced version of the Aerojet around a central launcher with Multiple Kill Vehicles that can independently intercept multiple warheads. It was later replaced by a similar multi-object kill vehicle as a contracted collaboration between Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. No system is perfect especially ones with such tight tolerances of success Considering the lack of active threat stress testing it’s likely the BMDS will not have more than a 50/50 success rate per missile Against a threat like North Korea multiple interceptors will make an attempt and it’s highly probable the US will succeed in taking it out. And if North Korea decided to attack Seoul, It’s much more likely that they would be able to overwhelm their defenses against the threats such as Russia things don’t look so good as hundreds of missiles equipped with ten warheads each Independently target different cities. The chance of a single warhead making a pass is high. Russian technology is simply superior to North Korea’s. New hypersonic warheads are being developed that can change their direction mid-flight making predictive tracking almost impossible. Even if the ballistic missile defenses are 100% accurate there are simply more warheads than interceptors making the BMDS only a limited capability system. Luckily North Korea is a limited capability threat You may have admired some of the footage i used in this video like this, this, this, and this They all came from StoryBlocks.com My channel literally would not have been possible without their service When I began this channel I planned to animate everything but that is simply way too much work, so i began looking for a stock footage site that would have suitable footage to use in places that did not need animation and that’s where Story Blocks came in. Story Blocks is the first and only stock media company offering unlimited free downloads of member library content for a modest annual fee of $149 dollars. I use up to 20 or more videos in each episode That would have cost upwards of $1000 without their service. This service is enabling so many channels like mine to exist I really can’t recommend them enough and they have stock images and audio too you can try out their service for free for seven days by going to StoryBlocks.com/RealEngineering As always, thanks for watching and thank you to all my Patreon supporters for making this channel possible If you’d like to see more from me the links from my social media accounts are below on making efforts to post more educational content on my Instagram account, so check that out if you’re interested.