U.S. Department of Defense
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DoD Focused on Defending Against Hypersonic Missiles

July 28, 2022
Funding to advance defense against hypersonic cruise missiles is being sought by several branches of the armed forces as part of the 2023 defense budget.

Hypersonic cruise missiles are viewed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as threats of growing significance, especially weapons launched by Russia and China.

During testimony at a recent House Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2023 strategic forces missile defense and missile defeat programs, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Jon A. Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), addressed the importance of developing a stout defense against hypersonic cruise missiles. He also explained how a layered missile defense system will be needed to guard against the unpredictable paths of hypersonic missiles.

Part of the challenge in guarding against hypersonic cruise missiles is the unpredictability of the source, since they can be readily launched from several types of naval vehicles, including submarines and aircraft carriers (see figure). According to Hill, in March 2023, the MDA, together with the U.S. Space Force and Space Development Agency, plan a launch of two interoperable prototype satellites. By collecting sensor tracking data, the satellites will provide the capability to pinpoint hypersonic cruise missiles from space.

The satellites would serve as components within multifunction terrestrial- and space-based measurement capability for long-range detection and warning of cruise missiles, including hypersonic weapons. The admiral also mentioned development of glide phase intercept capability that would add to layered defense. 

Hill was joined in the Armed Forces testimony regarding the need for advanced defense-technology development against hypersonic cruise missiles by John F. Plumb, the assistant secretary of defense for space policy; Air Force Lieutenant-General John E. Shaw, deputy commander of the U.S. Space Command; and Army Lieutenant-General Daniel L. Karbler, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command commander. 

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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