Recognizing the growing sophistication of drones, missiles, and nuclear weapon delivery platforms, our theater-strategic designs may not be fully prepared to meet the Integrated Deterrence and Defense commitments we have with our Allies and Partners. We must contemplate the simultaneous use of these weapons by Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China across multiple theaters. The strategic risk is high and it is growing exponentially.
A plethora of missiles were launched this past week from the autocratic governments of Iran, North Korea, and Russia to project force, destroy life and intimidate nations. On September 28, 2022, Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Iraq’s Kurdistan region. This was done to intimate the waves of protests and demonstrations in regard to the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody. Over 40 missiles and drones were launched by Iran to different destinations. One of the destinations targeted threatened US Forces on the ground. The United States successfully intercepted the drone from an F-15EX with a heat seeking air to air interceptor the AIM- 9X. This highly effective and cost efficient joint allied missile interceptor is the universal choice by US JOINT Air Combat Platforms, Allied Air Platforms, and on land in the defense of the United States Capital and going into Taiwan. Taiwan’s FMS Approved NASAM sale was announced on September 26, 2022 and they will be able to buy the latest versions of NASAMS and buy the AIM-9X, AMRAAM, and AMRAAM-ER missiles. The Department of Defense additionally announced the future NASAM operations in Ukraine earlier this week. However, the United States FMS has restricted the sale of AIM 9X to be given to Ukraine who would use it on its newly acquired NASAMS. It is important to note the first Iranian shipment on August 19, 2022 of drones for Russian use in Ukraine and that Russia continues to use Iranian technologies.
“At approximately 2:10 PM local time, US forces brought down an Iranian Mojer-6 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle headed in the direction of Erbil as it appeared as a threat to CENTCOM forces in the area.” CENTCOM
A multiple salvo missile strike by Russia on September 30th, in Ukraine, has killed 25 civilians and harmed 50 others. Ukrainian officials reported that three S-300 missiles struck a civilian convoy of cars traveling “on the edge of the city of Zaporizhzhia, preparing to leave Ukrainian territory controlled by Kyiv to visit relatives and deliver supplies in an area occupied by Russia”. Prior to this attack, Russia has fired an estimated 20 missiles into Ukrainian territory just this week. The total number of casualties within the Russian-Ukrainian conflict are in the 10’s of thousands, resulting from the over 3,800 missiles Russia has launched into Ukrainian territory, killing people and damaging both military and civilian infrastructures. Communal areas such as town centers, schools, and neighborhoods have fallen victim to missile strikes over the course of the conflict. This week’s acts of Russian aggression have preceded President Vladimir Putin’s formal annexation of four, Russian controlled regions of Ukraine at a meeting of the Russian Federal Council on Friday, September 30th.
On September 25th, 2022 North Korea launched a short range ballistic missile (SRBM) into the waters off of their Eastern coast with another 2 SRBMs fired on September 28th, a day before Vice President Kamala Harris went to visit South Korea to strengthen national ties with the US. While visiting the DMZ, she made the statement that “In the North, we see a brutal dictatorship, rampant human- rights violations and an unlawful weapons program that threatens peace and stability,”. In an act of protest, North Korea fired another 2 more SRBMs mere hours after VP Harris left on September 29th. These missile tests, coupled with South Korean intelligence that North Korea may be preparing to test a submarine-launch ballistic missile (SLBM), have prompted a 3 day joint South Korean, Japanese, and US submarine defense drills off of the Eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula starting on September 30th. It also comes at a time when South Korean intelligence reports that North Korea could carry out a nuclear test as early as October 16th.
The National Security enterprise needs to think more deeply about the collusive “Sequenced” and/or “Simultaneous” use of these weapons systems by our adversaries. As we pursue the essential modernization of our Nuclear and Conventional forces to achieve effective and efficient Integrated Deterrence and Defense, we must build new capabilities and capacities within this new framework.
Through that lens, it is clear to see that we remain unprepared, out-matched, and at risk. Thus, our systematic investments in Missile Defense capabilities must overmatch the plethora of these collective threats.