Dear Members and Friends,
Over this past year, the newest threat to deliver force quickly, project power outside of national borders and in a launch platform that does not obey ballistic trajectories is being developed and flight tested by the two major super powers of the world: China and the United States. This highly advanced non ballistic, inside the atmosphere, Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV) would have the capability to carry nuclear or conventional weapons to strike targets at hypersonic speeds with pinpoint accuracy in very short times. China has conducted three known flight tests this year, most recently on December 2. The United States flew a successful HGV in the past and attempted an HGV launch on August 25 of this year.
The HGV is designed to beat the ballistic missile defense systems that use algorithms to mathematically determine interception points through velocity and trajectory of a ballistic missile path to accurately guide an intercepting missile. The hypersonic glide vehicle defeats this logic by not traveling in a ballistic path, and maneuvering at hypersonic speeds inside the atmosphere prior to the termination of its flight to target and detonation its warhead. It is launched like a ballistic missile or rocket but does not go into space, and releases in high altitude, skipping and gliding irregularly across thin air before going into a downward, hypersonic, highly maneuverable and evasive path executing all of its energy before striking its target.
Defeating a hypersonic glide vehicle would require a capability to intercept in boost phase, in early flight in the atmosphere before maneuvering, during the hypersonic maneuvering, or at the terminal phase prior to impact. A boost phase intercept capability would require faster rockets with forward based deployments and airborne lasers. The ideal approach would be to develop a hypersonic maneuvering interceptor, but this would most likely be cost prohibitive in the current budget realities. Today, there is a U.S. missile defense system that operates and intercepts at high altitudes where the HGV flies before maneuvering. This is the deployed and proven THAAD System. Continuing to develop the THAAD system to add an additional stage to increase its speed and range with its highly maneuverable and proven capability should be considered as an effective way to defeat the HGV threat. A secondary alternative would be the SM-6 interceptor, which is designed to intercept highly maneuverable cruise missiles in lower atmosphere, although these interceptors do not operate or intercept in high altitude air space. All of these options should be considered, studied, eventually chosen and invested in as our nation cannot afford to be outpaced by a technology that would threaten our freedoms and our way of life.
It is the responsibility of the Department of Defense and would require additional directed investment in research and development by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to develop, test and prove out these systems and others that can defeat Hypersonic Glide Vehicles.
Our national security is dependent on staying ahead of the hypersonic threat.