Hyten: Hypersonic missile defense satellites a job for the Space Development Agency

April 11, 2019

Space News – Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command and nominated to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, oversees operations involving some of the military’s most sensitive satellites that detect and track enemy missiles.

Hyten has been insistent that DoD needs a layer of satellites in lower orbits to track targets much closer to Earth than the existing missile warning constellation that operates from geostationary orbit. “That has to be a piece of the architecture,” Hyten told SpaceNews on Tuesday at the 35th Space Symposium.

“You can’t defend against something that you can’t see,” he said. DoD needs to build stronger defenses against emerging hypersonic missiles that are launched into space but then glide into the atmosphere and maneuver in unpredictable trajectories, said Hyten. That requires global coverage and the most efficient way to get that, he said, is from a large constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, he said. “You have to be very proliferated to have global coverage.”

The Missile Defense Agency has been studying options to deploy a sensor layer in space but there is no official Defense Department requirement to develop or build one. “Nobody is really looking at hypersonic sensing,” said Hyten. It’s been talked about but “nobody’s really looking at how do we do this.”

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