Transformation of U.S. Missile Defense Policy in the Context of Countering Hypersonic Weapons

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-4-40-52
Moscow State Institute of International Relations, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 05.09.2022. Revised 12.12.2022. Accepted 16.01.2023.

Acknowledgments. This work was supported by Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University), project no. 2023-03-02. The author expresses his deepest gratitude to the reviewer for his valuable comments, which were helpful for improving the text of the article.

Abstract. This paper examines the impact of hypersonic threat on the evolution of the U.S. missile defense. The article analyzes the specifics of this threat, examines related doctrinal and practical changes, describes and characterizes planned defense architecture, forecasts the prospects for its implementation and impact on the strategic situation. The author comes to a conclusion that the U.S. – planned counter-hypersonic capabilities are aimed at countering the threat posed by intermediate-range and shorter-range boost-glide systems. Development of these capabilities is concentrated in three main domains: sensors, interceptors and advanced technologies. The most important and challenging goal of this development will be to ensure an effective integration and coordinated joint functioning of all the elements to be created within a unified command, control and communication system. The key driving force for the development of the U.S. counter-hypersonic capabilities is China. This conclusion follows not only from the fact that the PRC is currently the only state with boost-glide systems of less-than-intercontinental range in its arsenal, but also from the fact that future interceptors will be based on maritime platforms. By adapting its missile defense policy, the U.S. are clearly looking for opportunities to enhance its conventional deterrence capability against China in the context of increasing tensions in Asia-Pacific. The ongoing “hypersonic” evolution of the American missile defense will complicate arms control measures in this area. The integration of various elements of the emerging system implies building its architecture in such a way that limitations could have a major impact on its effectiveness. This could become a fundamental obstacle on the way to agreeing on measures to limit missile defenses in the future. Such situation may leave only some room for confidence-building measures capable of providing a certain level of transparency and predictability.

Keywords: missile defense, hypersonic weapons, USA, sensors, interceptors, deterrence, damage limitation, counterforce strike, retaliation strike, escalation


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For citation:
Chekov A. Transformation of U.S. Missile Defense Policy in the Context of Countering Hypersonic Weapons. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 40-52. EDN: KNCLJD

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