Webinar: Building A Reliable Hypersonic Missile Defense

This webinar took place on Friday, August 19, 2022. 

Steve Trimble, Aviation Week Network's Defense Editor, took the hot-seat hosting a webinar about building a reliable hypersonic missile defense.

His opening slide contained a one word question: "Indefensible?", describing it as "a provocative statement".

Trimble explained that the U.S. Defense Department had launched a "multi-billion dollar architecture" that has been built to shoot down hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). He said: "There is some controversy and questions about the path that the Missile Defense Agency, and other agencies within the Department of Defense, have chosen to go down and pursue that." 

He then puts the question into context by explaining to the attendees what hypersonic glides vehicles are. Watch the webinar to find out more. 

Watch the full recording above. 

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It seems to me that the concept of an "extremely effective" defense against a hypersonic glide an other design-type missile attacks by a peer nation is impossible. Defensive systems are important, but in reality they have limited effectiveness. Factors that have led me to that conclusion are as follows:

First, missile launches can be made from multiple positions including including land, sea, air, surface ships, and submarines. It is impractical -- really impossible -- to have sufficient anti-missile defenses in place to cover ALL of those attack methods and avenues. Don't ever forget how large the US is, and the multiple directions from which attacks can arrive.

Second, no anti-missile defensive system can be 100% effective. Personally, I suspect 25% effectiveness is about max that can be anticipated, and that's on a "good day." Unacceptable!

Third, an all-out attack on the US by a military peer-nation will surely employ saturation targeting by missiles; also, by bombers, fighter bombers and submarines against the continental-US and our overseas military assets. Possibly, also against our allies' military assets.

Multiple targets (military and civilian) will be simultaneously targeted. A geographically huge country like the US cannot prevent massive internal destruction. We have too large a country to be able to totally defend. Destruction will include much of our defensive systems, offensive systems, cities, other military assets (land, sea and air), manufacturing, communications, financial, transportation, and much more. It will be a terrible military disaster from which revovery may be nigh impossible!

Our ability to effectively respond militarily will have been direly diminished. All of THAT leads me to conclude that WW-III MUST BE PREVENTED. I believe the most effective defense is development and widespread DEPLOYMENT of highly effective OFFENSIVE military attack systems. Defensive systems can't do that.

The old adage, "Walk softly and carry a BIG stick" is still a vital part of an effective defense strategy. Call that MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), if you like. Now, the US needs many more BIG sticks. Enough to make all potential enemies realize that both US defensive and attack capabilities are insurmountable by them -- even during saturation attacks. They need to realize without a doubt, that they face certain annihilation if they attack the US.

Obviously, we also need a lot of very effective defensive systems. But, perhaps even more so, we need many more excellent offensive systems. Unequivocally, a very apparent and strong offensive capability is the best way for preventing WW-III, or to survive it... should that occur. Sad, but true.
I agree with Chas. Munroe - at least on one important point: we need a lot more modern big sticks. In the second half of the teens of this century, Russia overtook US on hypersonic technology and China invaded/occupied the South China Sea - one big "patriot" slept over this phase, and now we are where we are.
On the other hand, an all out attack does not come at the push of a button. There are preparations, signs, movements of equipment and troops etc. which will not pass unnoticed. This should be enough for our leaders to clearly define the red lines which would trigger an all out responce from the US, even without an attack from the other side. This should be a deterrant, provided we do have the big sticks