Hypersonic Cruise Missiles Pose Greatest Area Defense Threat – Signal Magazine

Cruise missiles are a serious threat challenging defensive systems, and advances in hypersonic design and performance promise to make them even more deadly, say U.S. missile defense flag officers. Peer adversaries are testing systems that would threaten U.S. assets both tactically and strategically, and the military services are working with the Missile Defense Agency on layered defenses that would serve both purposes.

These points were elaborated by a panel of missile defense leaders in a roundtable offered by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. Representing services and combatant commanders, the flag officers agreed on two key points: layered defenses offer the best way to combat attacks by different kinds of missiles; and combining assets is the best way to build an effective counter to missile attack.

Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, USN, director, Missile Defense Agency, stated that strategic cruise missiles are a very real threat. Combined with hypersonic technologies under development by peer rivals, they could become even more menacing with the ability to maneuver and fly at extreme speed. The nation needs to take a hard look at the threat, he said, with an eye toward “investment streams” to counter these missiles.

That threat is an everyday concern to Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, USN, director for operations, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The admiral could not offer a timeline for when an effective defense against advanced cruise missiles would be available, but the command is working to use existing capabilities to address the existing threat. Guam is the top priority for missile
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