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U.S. THAAD launchers in South Korea begin operations

By Elizabeth Shim
U.S. THAAD launchers in South Korea begin operations
South Korean police block road leading to the Lotte Skyhill Country Club where some of the missiles of the U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) are deployed in Seongju, South Korea Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. military in South Korea is expected to begin operating the four additional THAAD launchers installed last week, bringing the total number of U.S. missile defense systems operational in South Korea to six.

Yonhap reported Tuesday Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commander of the U.S. 8th Army in Korea, visited the THAAD site in Seongju, central South Korea, on Tuesday.

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Vandal was on site to inspect the systems in preparation for activation of the launchers designed to deter incoming North Korea missiles.

The launchers were connected to a power supply, and accompanying radar was also switched on so the systems were operational by end of Tuesday, according to the report.

The additional launchers were placed on site on Thursday.

Following the delivery of the four rocket launchers, the U.S. military had been constructing a metal pad where the launchers could be placed in position.

Of the six launchers, three are visible from the vantage point of Dalmasan, a nearby mountain, but the remaining three were placed in positions not visible from the elevated area, according to Yonhap.

THAAD not only intercepts short-range and mid-range ballistic missiles, but also collects data on North Korea mid-range missiles.

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The U.S. missile defense occupies about 80,000 square meters of a former golf course that covered about 320,000 square meters of land, which the South Korean government acquired from conglomerate Lotte in 2016.

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