How the Pentagon plans to repel hypersonic missile attacks


If there is a way to stop hypersonic missile attacks, it will likely rely heavily on data sharing, high-speed computing, and artificial intelligence.

The challenge is to create a continuous track of an assault weapon moving at more than five times the speed of sound while a countermeasure is being taken. This countermeasure could include the use of an interceptor fast enough to obtain a kinetic “hit” from a hypersonic weapon or some method of “jamming” or disrupting the missile’s trajectory or airflow.

The Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency and the defense industry are working on several programs to create a continuous path. A hypersonic missile will fly from one radar’s coverage area to another, meaning the Department of Defense could lose track of it. For this reason, the Department of Defense is focusing on developing a new Hypersonic Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor technology that enables the continuous tracking of high-speed hypersonic missiles from “beyond the line of sight” by networking small satellites with one another.

“Perhaps one way to do this is to take some of this data in real time into a weapons database and transfer that data from the satellite system to the weapon,” said Mike Ciffone, Northrop Grumman’s director of strategy, capture and operations, overhead persistent infrared and spatial data systems, reported at the Space Missile and Defense Symposium in August. For example, some of the data processing can potentially be enabled by artificial intelligence and can also be performed at the point of data reception, essentially where the incoming sensor data first arrives.

Computer processing is getting faster and faster and is increasingly dependent on artificial intelligence. A number of technical breakthroughs enable the instant analysis, organization, evaluation and optimization of incoming sensor data. This technology makes it possible to find critical information and send it to military commanders at exponentially faster speeds than previously possible. Finally, critical data such as the expected flight path, landing time, location, speed and altitude can be calculated using advanced computer algorithms. These algorithms will enable a quick exchange of information across previously disaggregated areas.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor of the National interests. Osborn previously worked at the Pentagon as a highly qualified expert in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as a presenter and on-air military specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a visiting military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters

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