Defense against Hypersonic Glide Vehicles

bobbymike

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
11,061
Reaction score
2,411

Trident

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
1,214
Reaction score
641
Very well argued. Although aware of the interplay between missile defences and deterrence, I hadn't quite processed the fact that it was in no small part the presence of the ABM Treaty which enabled the US and USSR to later contemplate reductions in their offensive arsenals.

Makes the successful 11th-hour extension to New START all the more remarkable and encouraging in the current political climate.

 

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
955
Reaction score
589
It seems unlikely the US pulls back from missile defense with the advent of hypersonics and the large scale deployment of intermediate range missiles by China. Also the verification would be incredibly hard - basically every Aegis ship at this point could be an ABM system (most actually do not have that upgrade for the moment, but any given one could). I think weapons proliferation will be here to stay, most especially because I think China sees every advantage to outbuilding its opponents and sees no reason to limit its capability to do so.

NewSTART only got extended because the US isn't producing any warheads or delivery systems and the Russians are struggling to replace theirs one for one at the moment. By 2026, likely neither side will have an interest in maintaining the treaty unless China enters it as well.
 

Trident

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
1,214
Reaction score
641
It seems unlikely the US pulls back from missile defense with the advent of hypersonics and the large scale deployment of intermediate range missiles by China.

Yes, to a certain extent the cat is out of the bag. But I don't think anybody is advocating totally abandoning missile defence (least of all Russia, with its own active system), only binding limits. As for hypersonics, intercontinental range HGVs are treaty-accountable according to Russian thinking (and, without prompting, they put their money where their mouth is in putting up Avangard for inspection)*.

Also the verification would be incredibly hard - basically every Aegis ship at this point could be an ABM system (most actually do not have that upgrade for the moment, but any given one could). I think weapons proliferation will be here to stay, most especially because I think China sees every advantage to outbuilding its opponents and sees no reason to limit its capability to do so.

Absolutely - Aegis BMD is probably the single biggest issue! Bigger than the limited number of GBI, but that's a self-inflicted wound by the US - there was no shortage of warnings on the implications, going all the way back to the USA 193 interception more than 10 years ago. On China's outbuilding approach, to what extent is that driven by the missile defence problem? Which came first? Considering their previous restraint on strategic nuclear deterrence, there are strong indications that this is a reaction to exogenous pressures, not a premeditated strategy.

By 2026, likely neither side will have an interest in maintaining the treaty unless China enters it as well.

... and limits on missile defence could be the very carrot which compels them to consider it. The failed Trump admin "efforts" (if they can be dignified with the term) were singularly lacking in any incentive for China to join. BTW, in 2026 it'll have to be an entirely new agreement anyway - the extension option in New START was a one-shot deal by design.

* Part of me wonders whether there is a somewhat nefarious, if extremely amusing, angle to this proactive and fairly surprising move. Some US experts have argued that they prefer a future treaty to NOT encompass hypersonics, so it won't constrain conventional deployment options. So by stealing a march with Avangard, Russia could conceivably have killed two birds with one stone: ensured the continued viability of their deterrent in the face of expanding US missile defences, and set a precedent that makes future US weapons of this type treaty-limited! That would add a whole new dimension to the damage caused to the US by its leaving the ABM Treaty.
 
Last edited:

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
955
Reaction score
589
I think China is rethinking its entire nuclear and ballistic missile posture and I think US ABM systems are a relatively secondary concern (as compared to the Russians who have always had a nearly irrational fear of ABM weapons). I think China has war gamed out a conventional conflict with the US and realized they lose every escalation cycle that doesn't involve at least a draw. At any given moment there are a probably a couple hundred cruise missiles on naval platforms within range of their coast line, and every effort to extend the fight to US regional installations increases the likelihood that a US counter strike targets production facilities and other vulnerable economic/military infrastructure. Escalating to a nuclear exchange similarly boxes them in to a devastating war they can't win. I think they will seek to achieve nuclear parity regardless of what the US or Russia does so that any future conflict with the US can be on even terms.

As for the Russians and Avangarde, I think they did that not to lump hypersonics into future treaties as much as to keep the US in NewSTART. I doubt even Biden would agree to a treaty that left an entire class of deployed strategic weapons outside its purview*. The fact that the Russians wanted NewSTART makes me assume that while the US doesn't have any nuclear weapons in production, it has sufficient warheads in storage to rapidly re MIRV such that the Russians would not want a return to that posture. I don't know if this means they have fewer strategic weapons in storage or a similar number but maintained in worse condition, or some other deployment problem (spending even more money while recapitalizing the deterrence force?), but they have always made it clear they wanted to return to NewSTART.

* To some extent Poseidon/Status 6 would come under 'uncontrolled strategic weapon', but these are effectively second strike weapons with a very limited target set and slow delivery, even when the type becomes operational.
 

In_A_Dream

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
279
Reaction score
141
I think China is rethinking its entire nuclear and ballistic missile posture and I think US ABM systems are a relatively secondary concern (as compared to the Russians who have always had a nearly irrational fear of ABM weapons). I think China has war gamed out a conventional conflict with the US and realized they lose every escalation cycle that doesn't involve at least a draw. At any given moment there are a probably a couple hundred cruise missiles on naval platforms within range of their coast line, and every effort to extend the fight to US regional installations increases the likelihood that a US counter strike targets production facilities and other vulnerable economic/military infrastructure. Escalating to a nuclear exchange similarly boxes them in to a devastating war they can't win. I think they will seek to achieve nuclear parity regardless of what the US or Russia does so that any future conflict with the US can be on even terms.

As for the Russians and Avangarde, I think they did that not to lump hypersonics into future treaties as much as to keep the US in NewSTART. I doubt even Biden would agree to a treaty that left an entire class of deployed strategic weapons outside its purview*. The fact that the Russians wanted NewSTART makes me assume that while the US doesn't have any nuclear weapons in production, it has sufficient warheads in storage to rapidly re MIRV such that the Russians would not want a return to that posture. I don't know if this means they have fewer strategic weapons in storage or a similar number but maintained in worse condition, or some other deployment problem (spending even more money while recapitalizing the deterrence force?), but they have always made it clear they wanted to return to NewSTART.

* To some extent Poseidon/Status 6 would come under 'uncontrolled strategic weapon', but these are effectively second strike weapons with a very limited target set and slow delivery, even when the type becomes operational.
I mean China still feels like the can achieve a Political victory via Military force RE: Taiwan without a huge backlash from the US. As long as this ignorant thinking proliferates in the upper echelons of the CCP & PLA, they are in for a harsh awakening. I don't know what assumptions they are operating under but the American people wouldn't tolerate such an attack against US forces in the region, independent of sentiment of the US political establishment.
 

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
955
Reaction score
589
I think China is aware of the repercussions of open conflict with Taiwan and that's why there isn't open conflict with Taiwan.
 

sferrin

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
14,180
Reaction score
2,712
Until China's nukes are included the US unilaterally hamstringing itself is insane.
 

In_A_Dream

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
279
Reaction score
141
I think China is aware of the repercussions of open conflict with Taiwan and that's why there isn't open conflict with Taiwan.
They are not yet in a position to do so economically or militarily, the 2030 timeline that's provided by defense analysts would be more favorable as China continues on its path towards Hegemonic leadership.
 

Trident

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
1,214
Reaction score
641
I think China is rethinking its entire nuclear and ballistic missile posture and I think US ABM systems are a relatively secondary concern (as compared to the Russians who have always had a nearly irrational fear of ABM weapons).

Not so sure about that. Russia's arsenal is still sufficiently larger that it has considerably more margin for accommodating BMD. And it is beginning to field a weapon (Avangard) which outflanks current US defences - there's every reason to expect the Russians to be *less* worried than China.

As for the Russians and Avangarde, I think they did that not to lump hypersonics into future treaties as much as to keep the US in NewSTART. I doubt even Biden would agree to a treaty that left an entire class of deployed strategic weapons outside its purview*.

Possible. If the intention is to set a precedent on hypersonics, they are certainly keeping mum about it! But bearing in mind their previous harsh criticism of US CPGS efforts and how such a move runs counter to stated US aims in strategic arms control, it cannot be discounted IMHO.

I don't know if this means they have fewer strategic weapons in storage or a similar number but maintained in worse condition, or some other deployment problem (spending even more money while recapitalizing the deterrence force?), but they have always made it clear they wanted to return to NewSTART.

I suspect it's money - conventional wisdom has the Russian stored arsenal larger IIRC. It is certainly interesting though to note that the US has FAR more upload potential than typical New START critics (who tend to act like it's a uniquely Russian capability) like to acknowledge!

* To some extent Poseidon/Status 6 would come under 'uncontrolled strategic weapon', but these are effectively second strike weapons with a very limited target set and slow delivery, even when the type becomes operational.

It's more prosaic than that - Poseidon (and the other novel delivery systems) simply have no chance of going on alert before the New START extension expires, so were irrelevant to the issue.
 

tequilashooter

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
527
Reaction score
608
I sort of follow the purpose of the ABM and Start treaty, but is there one(or there should be one) for lets say sending a megawatt powered nuclear satellite that is EW capable like the Ekipazh that might target our satellite tracking projects? There was some paranoia of what Russia sends to space without disclosing what they sent.
 

In_A_Dream

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
279
Reaction score
141
I sort of follow the purpose of the ABM and Start treaty, but is there one(or there should be one) for lets say sending a megawatt powered nuclear satellite that is EW capable like the Ekipazh that might target our satellite tracking projects? There was some paranoia of what Russia sends to space without disclosing what they sent.
1967 Outer Space Treaty
 

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
955
Reaction score
589
I sort of follow the purpose of the ABM and Start treaty, but is there one(or there should be one) for lets say sending a megawatt powered nuclear satellite that is EW capable like the Ekipazh that might target our satellite tracking projects? There was some paranoia of what Russia sends to space without disclosing what they sent.
1967 Outer Space Treaty
I don't think that bans nuclear power, just nuclear weapons. The US orbited the SNAP series of satellites and the Soviets orbited numerous RORSATs which also had a nuclear power reactors (and not just RTGs). In fact I believe two of those reactors failed to boost into grave yard orbits and fell back to earth, at least one breaking up over (and contaminating) Canada.

It would be obvious if any satellite was nuclear powered; the IR signature would be massive.
 

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
955
Reaction score
589
I don't know if this means they have fewer strategic weapons in storage or a similar number but maintained in worse condition, or some other deployment problem (spending even more money while recapitalizing the deterrence force?), but they have always made it clear they wanted to return to NewSTART.

I suspect it's money - conventional wisdom has the Russian stored arsenal larger IIRC. It is certainly interesting though to note that the US has FAR more upload potential than typical New START critics (who tend to act like it's a uniquely Russian capability) like to acknowledge!


Regarding warheads, I think the US has ~4500 in various states of storage in the enduring stockpile in various states of assembly (I think even a few B53s are retained dismantled for 'planetary defense') . It wouldn't shock me if Russia had even more. But it might be the case that the US has a much larger number of serviceable warheads that could be easily reloaded. There were something like 2700 W76s made and only ~450 are deployed. If a large number of those got the Mod 1 upgrade, then they are not only recently refurbished but also likely have a hard kill/first strike capability with the smart fuse upgrade. Presumably the deMIRVed W78s are also in serviceable condition. Along with bring fifty unused MMIII silos back online, the US could probably increase its deployed ICBM force by 950 warheads and its SLBM force by similar number of W76s. Not sure to what extent the Russians can upload their missiles.
 

In_A_Dream

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
279
Reaction score
141
I sort of follow the purpose of the ABM and Start treaty, but is there one(or there should be one) for lets say sending a megawatt powered nuclear satellite that is EW capable like the Ekipazh that might target our satellite tracking projects? There was some paranoia of what Russia sends to space without disclosing what they sent.
1967 Outer Space Treaty
I don't think that bans nuclear power, just nuclear weapons. The US orbited the SNAP series of satellites and the Soviets orbited numerous RORSATs which also had a nuclear power reactors (and not just RTGs). In fact I believe two of those reactors failed to boost into grave yard orbits and fell back to earth, at least one breaking up over (and contaminating) Canada.

It would be obvious if any satellite was nuclear powered; the IR signature would be massive.
Not nuclear power, no, but the weaponization of space.
 

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
955
Reaction score
589
I sort of follow the purpose of the ABM and Start treaty, but is there one(or there should be one) for lets say sending a megawatt powered nuclear satellite that is EW capable like the Ekipazh that might target our satellite tracking projects? There was some paranoia of what Russia sends to space without disclosing what they sent.
1967 Outer Space Treaty
I don't think that bans nuclear power, just nuclear weapons. The US orbited the SNAP series of satellites and the Soviets orbited numerous RORSATs which also had a nuclear power reactors (and not just RTGs). In fact I believe two of those reactors failed to boost into grave yard orbits and fell back to earth, at least one breaking up over (and contaminating) Canada.

It would be obvious if any satellite was nuclear powered; the IR signature would be massive.
Not nuclear power, no, but the weaponization of space.
I haven't read it, but I thought it specifically banned placing nuclear weapons in space, not ASAT warfare.
 

tequilashooter

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
527
Reaction score
608
Some info on HGV guidance. https://topwar.ru/162288-planirujuschie-giperzvukovye-boevye-bloki-proekty-i-perspektivy.html

Guidance of GSLA in a plasma "cocoon"


One of the favorite arguments of critics of hypersonic weapons is its imaginary inability to conduct guidance due to the plasma "cocoon" forming when driving at high speeds, which does not pass radio waves and prevents the receipt of an optical image of the target. The mantra about the "impenetrable plasma barrier" has become as popular as the myth of the dispersal of laser radiation in the atmosphere, almost 100 meters, or other persistent stereotypes.

Of course, there is a problem of guidance of the GLA, but how insoluble it is, it is already a

question. Especially when compared to problems such as the creation of GVRD or high-temperature-resistant structural materials. The task of guidance of the GSLA can be broken down into three stages:
1. Inertial guidance.





2. Correction according to global satellite positioning systems, possible application of astrocorrection.

3. Guidance on the final site on the target, if the target is mobile (limitedly mobile), for example, on a large ship.

It is obvious that the plasma barrier is not a hindrance for inertial guidance, and it should be taken into account that the accuracy of inertial guidance systems is constantly

growing. The inertial guidance system can be supplemented with a gravimeter that enhances its exact characteristics, or other systems that do not depend on the presence or absence of a plasma barrier.

To receive signals from satellite navigation systems is enough relatively compact antennas, for which can be used engineering

solutions. For example, placing such antennas in shading zones formed by a specific hull configuration, using heat-resistant antennas or flexible long-haul antennas made from high-strength materials, injection of refrigeration at certain points of the design or other solutions, as well as their combination.


HGV plasma tran.JPG
In the tail (bottom) part of the fast-moving combat unit there is discharge, which can be placed the antennas of navigation and control systems, or such zones can be formed artificially, a certain configuration of the hull of the GLA

Perhaps, in the same way, transparency windows can be created for radar and optical guidance. Do not forget that without access to classified information, you can only discuss already declassified, published technical solutions.

If it is not possible to "open" the view for the radar station (radar) or the optical-location station (OLS) on the hypersonic carrier, for example, the separation of the GSLA on the final flight site can be

applied. In this case, for 90-100 km of the target, the GLA resets the guidance unit, which is braked by a parachute or otherwise, scans the radar and ALS, and transmits the coordinates of the target, course and speed of its movement to the bulk of the GSLA. Between the separation of the guidance unit and the hit of the combat unit in the target will take about 10 seconds, which is not enough to defeat the guidance block or significantly change the position of the target (the ship at maximum speed will pass no more than 200 meters). However, it is possible that the guidance unit will have to be separated even further, in order to increase the time to correct the trajectory of the flight of the GSLA. It is possible that a sequential reset of guidance blocks at different ranges will be used during the group launch of the GSLA to consistently adjust the coordinates of the target.

Thus, even without access to classified developments, we can see that the problem of plasma "cocoon" is solvable, and taking into account the announced terms of adoption of the GPLA in 2019-2013, we can assume that, most likely, it has already been
solved.
 

bobbymike

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
11,061
Reaction score
2,411

MDA looks to adapt existing booster tech with modified kill vehicles for rapid counter-hypersonic fielding

The Missile Defense Agency is utilizing a two-track approach to develop and field a layered counter-hypersonic capability -- adapting mature booster and kill-vehicle technology for the first iterations of a glide-phase and terminal defeat system while working on a longer-term solution based on a clean-sheet design of a weapon optimized for ultra-high-speed operations inside the atmosphere
 

bobbymike

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
11,061
Reaction score
2,411
 

sferrin

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
14,180
Reaction score
2,712

Similar threads

Top