WASHINGTON – The best way to defend the United States from cruise missile attack could be to focus on where opponents are holding the ships and planes that could fire such a weapon and not take a broader approach to counter any possibility. said the vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said Feb. 23.
The US has yet to reach a conclusion in the long-term debate about it how to defend the American homeland from cruise missiles, but General John Hyten, no from the Pentagon. 2 officer, said the focus need not be entirely on defeating terminal stage cruise missiles, which is the end of a missile's trajectory to a target.
"If you look at the cruise missile problem from the terminal stage, it basically means building giant point defense radars or some sort of air defense radar, because even a Low-Earth Orbit satellite has a hard time seeing most cruise missiles," Hyten said at an event of the Center for Strategic and International Studies focused on missile defense. “You have the opportunity to see some and we have to make sure we explore that and understand that piece, but to face the cruise missile threat, the first sensor, first critical sensor piece of the puzzle is the platform sensor, because the cruise missile was launched from that platform. "
With the exception of a possible nuclear-powered cruise missile, the weapon should be launched from a platform that should be relatively close to the target, Hyten explained. This can be a platform such as a submarine, ship or airplane.
"The important thing is to have a clear idea of where the platforms are that could threaten the United States with cruise missiles," he said. "You understand where the platforms are, again, you respond effectively and effectively deter your opponent when you see a platform approaching an area that threatens the United States."
This approach is usually & # 39; left of launch & # 39; which means that the focus is on disabling a missile's launcher before it has a chance to be shot down, rather than firing the missile on its journey to a target.
The next step, Hyten said, would be to figure out how to protect critical infrastructure from such attacks. This means determining which critical elements to defend and then deciding on a point defense architecture "because you can't place a point defense architecture all over the United States. It's impossible."
A Report of the Congressional Budget Office released earlier this month, which looked at the threat from cruise missiles to the U.S. homeland and explored possible architectures for a nationwide defense, found that the threat could be overcome using available technology, but it would be expensive if the strategy would be to have a wide-area defense.
CBO determined that buying and operating systems the military uses – a mix of aerospace-based radars, surface-to-air missiles, and fighter jets – would cost about $ 75 to $ 180 billion to buy and sell over 20 years. use. The report noted that deploying "additional regional or local defenses to protect Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories would increase costs."
Additionally, the report noted that it would be complicated to run defense systems in the home country due to heavy civil aviation traffic, as it would take longer to positively identify and address threats.
The responsiveness is already relatively limited due to the shorter range of cruise missiles compared to ballistic missiles and there is a greater challenge, through a variety of debris, to detect and identify covert cruise missiles that are naturally more difficult for radar to spot.
The report also notes that while cruise missile capabilities do exist, adversaries have many "attractive" alternatives to use, such as less expensive or more harmful options. "Decision makers should consider whether the cost of a wide area cruise missile defense was in proportion to the overall risk of (Land-Attack Cruise Missiles)," the report said.
CBO considered four primary architectures to defend the United States against cruise missiles, including the use of radar on High-Altitude, Low-Endurance Unmanned Air Vehicles (HALE-UAVs), modified commercial aircraft and aerostats, as well as remote-based sensors.
HALE UAVs would likely cost $ 77 to $ 98 billion over 20 years, while space radar would cost about $ 106 to $ 179 billion. On the increasingly expensive side, modified commercial aircraft are estimated to cost $ 187 to $ 246 billion. Aerostats could possibly be the most expensive – and that was something the U.S. military recently pursued until the program was killed in 2017 – at $ 98 to $ 466 billion.
The Joint land attack cruise missile defense increased net sensor system – or JLENS for short – was canceled after one of the tethered aerostats escaped its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and trudged through the air through Maryland and Pennsylvania until settling in a forested valley where Pennsylvania State Troopers were ordered to open fire on the system to deflate it.
The military had previously purchased only two systems from Raytheon cancel the program and ending one of the few cruise missile defense programs in the works.
The service has purchased two Iron dome systems of the Israeli defense company Rafael that will be used on a temporary basis as deployable defense systems for cruise missiles. It is also developing sustainable cruise missile defense point defense capability as part of a larger program aimed at defense against drones and missiles, artillery and mortars, as well as cruise missiles.
. (tagsToTranslate) cruise missiles (t) John Hyten (t) Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (t) Anti-Aircraft and Missile Defense (t) Missile Defense (t) CBO (t) Congressional Budget Office