AuthorTopic: A Threat to America's Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power–High-Speed, Maneuvering  (Read 678 times)

Offline Palloy

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The US is certainly way behind in the development of defences against supersonic missiles.  The AEGIS system has never been tested against them, because the MSST project to build a target for AEGIS to be tested against, dropped off the radar after the supposed completion date in 2012.

There have been warning going back as far as 2006 that this was happening, and threats made to cut funding for aircraft carriers if this wasn't addressed.  Ten years later and the warnings continue, only now it is hypersonic (Mach 5+) missiles that are the threat.

A section from the unclassified report's preface below.

https://www.rt.com/usa/368758-hypersonic-missile-gap-air-force/
Report warns Pentagon of hypersonic 'missile gap' with Russia, China
30 Nov, 2016

Development of hypersonic missile technology by China and Russia would endanger America's global dominance, argues a new report by an Air Force panel. US efforts at developing the technology are falling behind due to a lack of funding, the report says.

While the full report is classified, the executive summary was made public by the Committee on Future Air Force Needs for Defense Against High-Speed Weapon Systems – the panel’s official name.

Hypersonic missiles are defined as weapons traveling at five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) or above and capable of maneuvering to avoid current missile defenses, which were developed to counter ballistic missiles.

The “United States may be facing a threat from a new class of weapons that will effectively combine speed, maneuverability, and altitude in ways that could challenge this nation’s tenets of global vigilance, reach, and power,” Mark J. Lewis, the panel’s chair and a former US Air Force chief scientist, wrote in the introduction.

Tasked with studying the ways to defend against hypersonic missiles – officially referred to as high-speed maneuvering weapons (HSMWs) – the committee concluded it was a tall order, and that the best defense may be the US developing its own offensive HSMWs.

“These weapons appear to operate in regimes of speed and altitude, with maneuverability that could frustrate existing missile defense constructs and weapon capabilities,” the report says, adding that China and Russia are already flight-testing HSMWs that may pose a danger to both US forces overseas as well as the continental United States.

As US global dominance is based on forward-deployed Navy and Air Force assets, Chinese and Russian hypersonic missiles “could severely challenge global vigilance, constrain global presence, and impede global power.”

The US has long been at the forefront of hypersonic research, with Boeing developing a missile dubbed the X-51 WaveRider, which successfully flew at hypersonic speeds for over 3 minutes in May 2013. The panel that produced the report includes David Whelan, a vice president at the Defense, Space & Security division of Boeing. Missile specialists from Raytheon and Lockheed Martin also took part in the panel.

Several Russian warheads already have the capability of hypersonic maneuvering in the final stage of their flight, including the RS-24 Yars and RS-26 Rubezh long-range missiles and the Iskander-M tactical missile, according to TASS military expert Viktor Litovkin.

However, Russia does not currently possess a missile that could maintain hypersonic speed throughout its flight, and that technology is still years away. The Tactical Rocket Weaponry Corporation (KTRV) is hoping to produce such a missile by 2020, its director Boris Obnosov told Kommersant in September.

One of the major obstacles to development is a cloud of plasma that develops around the missile at the speed of Mach 5, which cuts off radio contact and makes guidance a problem, a defense industry source told the newspaper.



https://www.nap.edu/download/23667
A Threat to America's Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power–High-Speed, Maneuvering Weapons
Unclassified Summary

Authors:
  Committee on Future Air Force Needs for Defense Against High-Speed Weapon Systems;
  Air Force Studies Board;
  Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences;
  National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

2016

Preface, Pages viii - ix

[some paragraph breaks inserted for readability]

This National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to address the question of what, if any, response would be possible to defend against the threat of high-speed weapons.

The committee quickly realized that while responding to high speed is challenging in its own right, the combination of high speed and the unpredictability of high maneuverability poses an even greater hurdle. A lifting-body hypersonic weapon, operating at high altitude but in the sensible atmosphere, could use aerodynamic forces to make its trajectory difficult to predict and even more difficult to interdict. As a result, this report highlights some of the challenges to providing a defensive capability against the combination of speed and maneuverability.

When this study began, the committee hoped to identify a class of technology, or suite of technologies, perhaps even currently in development, for employment against high-speed maneuvering threats. The committee saw many concepts and heard about many different possible approaches, but in the end it concluded that there are no “silver bullets.” Stopping a maneuvering hypersonic weapon will be difficult, which is precisely why potential adversaries may be pursuing such systems.

More importantly, the committee found that while methods might be developed to defend against one or two incoming threats, traditional approaches in employing defensive measures may be less effective against multiple high-speed maneuvering weapons. As such, the reader of this report will find relatively few concrete recommendations for specific technologies to pursue; rather, the report offers the observation that sustained research and development is needed that considers a range of approaches, and those must be pursued in a coordinated and timely manner.

The committee’s charter was to focus on defense—how the United States could respond when the pointy end is heading toward us. And indeed, the bulk of our analysis has explored defense from both a technology and a roles-and-missions standpoint. But the report also ventures into discussions of developing offensive capabilities as well, for both a counter and a defensive response.

The committee considers this topic to be within the study’s statement of task, for it was made clear
in several thoughtful briefings and associated discussions that the best defense, perhaps the only defense, against an opponent’s high-speed maneuvering weapon may be another high-speed maneuvering weapon.

Offense and defense are two sides of the same coin; as in the days of the Cold War, the only reliable deterrent to the use of a hypersonic weapon may in fact be the threat of a corresponding hypersonic
countermeasure that might hold at risk the very sites from which the adversaries’ hypersonic strike would originate.

To better understand the potential operational capabilities and technical characteristics of such weapons, as well as their potential vulnerabilities, it will be important for the United States to make its own timely investments in this area.

To this end, the United States’ relatively leisurely pace of disjointed hypersonics technology developments, the lack of diversity in concepts, and the absence of a clear acquisition pathway appear to stand in stark contrast to potential adversaries’ feverish pace of research and development and test and evaluation, as well as their broadly cast net of technology options.

The committee is convinced that the USAF has a critical role to play in developing and employing the possible options to address the challenge of high-speed maneuvering weapons, as well as in providing the intellectual leadership for the DoD and the nation in this field.
The State is a body of armed men

 

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