I found this pic over at Business Insiders Military and Defense blog.
I don’t really care about the article on Nork missiles. I just wanted to share this picture.
You see the funny corkscrew movement? The first time I saw video of a Theater High Altitude Area Defense missile launch, and it did that funny corkscrew, I thought I was also going to see the Range Safety Officer destroy the missile.
But as it turns out, that’s a very carefully planned maneuver. See, the THAAD has a pretty good long range. But the primary missile range, at White Sands, NM, while immense, still isn’t large enough for the THAAD. So as soon as the missile leaves the launch tube, it does that little corkscrew bit to prevent it from building too much kinetic energy. With that little dissipation maneuver, the missile will still fall within the boundaries of the range.
In a real life, operational firing, you wouldn’t see that, and the interceptor would use that second or so of time for acceleration. A lot of acceleration.