Hyped up about hypersonics? New study offers worrisome findings.
Credit: RAND

 

The development of commercial suborbital space vehicles could lead eventually to businesses such as commercial hypersonic point-to-point air travel and low-cost launches to low Earth orbit.

But could this prospect be stymied by military applications of this technology?

RAND researchers offer an overview of their key findings on hypersonic missiles — a new class of military threat capable of maneuvering and flying faster than 5,000 kilometers per hour.

This new report describes how speed and maneuverability enable such missiles to penetrate most missile defenses, and further compress the timelines for a response by a nation under attack.

Trigger-happy technology?

The study suggests the proliferation of hypersonic missiles is an emerging threat. For one, these high-speed weapons can compress the response time for a nation under attack. In some cases, decisions would need to be made in six minutes and give nations an incentive to become trigger-happy. World powers can take steps to prevent proliferation, but the window to act is tight, the RAND report adds.

This research, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for its project Disruptive Technologies and the Future of Deterrence, suggests that there is probably less than a decade available to substantially hinder the potential proliferation of hypersonic missiles and associated technologies.

Resources

To read the RAND report — Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation: Hindering the Spread of a New Class of Weapons, go to:

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2137.html?utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=RAND%20Policy%20Currents+AEM:%20%20Email%20Address%20NOT%20LIKE%20DOTMIL&utm_campaign=AEM:631600804

Also go to this informative video:

https://www.rand.org/multimedia/video/2017/09/27/hypersonic-missile-nonproliferation.html

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