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Do Hypersonic Missiles Make Defense Systems Obsolete? 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Diplomat's Zachary Keck wonders why the U.S. government is doubling down on missile defense systems even as hypersonic missiles threaten to render them obsolete. Keck notes that hypersonic missiles pose two distinct challenges to current missile defense systems. First, they travel far faster than the missiles the defense systems are designed to intercept. Second, they travel at lower altitudes and possess greater maneuverability than the missiles the current systems have been built to destroy. Nonetheless, the U.S. was planning on spending $2 billion a year on missile defense through 2017, and now the Pentagon is asking for an additional $4.5 billion over the next five years."
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Do Hypersonic Missiles Make Defense Systems Obsolete?

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  • by KermodeBear (738243) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:13PM (#46187921) Homepage

    Yes, there may be these incredible "Hypersonic" missiles, but only the people with the capability to build or purchase them will have those missiles. Everyone else will be using conventional sub-sonic missiles. Also consider the many, many missiles (hundreds of thousands? I don't know) that currently exist right now and will be used in the future.

    Today's anti-missile systems will be useful for many years to come.

  • And this is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:13PM (#46187925) Journal
    And this would be why the R&D types, especially Navy, have been pushing like mad to get higher output lasers without the clunkiness of the old chemical-powered ones...
  • Defense Gap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:15PM (#46187943)

    Because Hypersonic missiles are ridiculously expensive and none of the probable combatants in near to mid term future wars are likely to have them. Even after they become viable weapons, only advanced military forces like China or Russia will be able field them for quite a while. The US is not going to war with China or Russia any time soon. We need defense platforms that deal with realistic enemies, and they will use missile tech that these defense platforms are capable of deal with.

    Also, Beta sucks. Long live Classic!

  • missiles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:15PM (#46187949)
    I don't know, can they shoot down beta?
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:17PM (#46187989)

    You are in a pretty good place if the only missiles that can successfully attack you are hypersonic, since they would be very expensive to build and take a lot of engineering prowess to work reliably.

    Also how much of a payload can one missile really carry? Not much, good only for targeted strikes. But the more recent missile attacks we have seen have been more blanket attacks, like the Palestinian missiles constantly bombarding Israeli cities. Anything that can protect civilian populations from that kind of madness absolutely has a place.

  • by zbobet2012 (1025836) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:20PM (#46188021)
    The simple answer is no, because not everyone can afford them. Even more importantly, those who can generally already had the ability to overwhelm any missile defense system via sheer numbers of warheads. The US really isn't as concerned about people like Russia and China attacking us, they have a very vested interest in stability.What the US is concerned about is a country like North Korea nuking Japan or the US West Coast. Or really even having the ability to do so, as it stop almost all US influence in the area. That is what missile defense systems are designed and deployed for.
  • by benjfowler (239527) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:21PM (#46188033)

    This happens a lot. Note that the US loves supercarriers too and keep building them, even while more rational people know that they'll be sent to the bottom within minutes of an high-intensity, high-tech war breaking out. The Chinese allegedly have ballistic missiles with reentry vehicles which can find and hit moving ships.

    Every major war has started with equipment, tactics, strategy inherited from the last war. The start of WWI, with light horsemen charging into, and getting cut up by, machine gun fire. The officers had their ideas -- and that was _it_.

    The reasons for all this are complex, but in a nutshell, it's got to do with inertia, hubris, egos, and defence pork.

    The US is lucky in a sense -- despite all this, their technology development pipeline is very deep, their resources are huge, and they are culturally adapted to change in a way that most other cultures are not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:22PM (#46188041)

    We also have to remember that anti missile systems will soon be laser based, meaning that said missiles won't be able to dodge them, unless they can go faster than the speed of light..

  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:26PM (#46188093)

    And once the anti-missile lasers are well-established, there will be a push for faster-than-light missiles.

    And then of course, we will have the technology we need to explore other star systems.

  • by runeghost (2509522) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:38PM (#46188227)

    When you stir up a colony of bees, they buzz around angrily and try to sting you. On the surface, they appear mad, but I think some of them secretly enjoy it. Otherwise, they'd probably go back to the business of making honey as soon as they could.

    And then when you replace their hive with a plastic beach ball in a week, both they and you will be surprised and astonished when honey production drops to zero and stays there.

  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:48PM (#46188335) Homepage

    Old-school Slashdot user from the 90s here.

    I think what everyone is trying to say is that Slashdot should be left alone. No big makeovers, no big changes. We like it the way it is, and want it to be immune from the pile of suck that has taken over the rest of the web.

    Slashdot has remained one of the few sites that has changed little over the years. It is already perfect the way it is, and any change is just going to make it worse. Leave it the hell alone. There is nothing wrong with its usability, readability, etc. the way it is.

    Not only that, but... if you are trying to attract a different type of user to the site, you need to keep in mind that the people who are here LIKE the current company. If you attract scores of new users, it will be like an awesome small club opening its membership to all the drunk hobos in the city. The atmosphere and feel of the site are just not going to be the same, and us core, loyal, long time users will LEAVE.

    Do what you must, I hope my advice is at least read.

  • by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:50PM (#46188361)

    That's actually been my concern: Slashdot becomes so polluted with "f* beta" that nobody wants to read or contribute to it anymore. We keep hearing that the main value of the site is its interesting/insightful/funny comments (true enough), yet most of the comments from yesterday were none of the above.

    Yes, the bees are angry. You know it, I know it, the beekeepers know it. So let's all go back to making honey and see how they sort out the hive problem. Otherwise, without honey, the colony won't make it through the winter.

    (Sorry for carrying the beehive metaphor a bit too far. ;-)

  • Re:Lasers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jimbolauski (882977) on Friday February 07, 2014 @03:48PM (#46189035) Journal
    When the Navy reaches its laser goal of a 1MW laser it will be cut through 2,000 feet of steal per second. Even with aluminum, which is more reflective to light and better at dissipating heat the dwell time needed to cut through the skin is probably less then a 1/100 of a second. At mach 5 that's only tracking for 60 feet. The 1MW laser if far off but by the time seedier countries have hypersonic missiles the navy will have their Mega-Watt laser.
  • by bob_super (3391281) on Friday February 07, 2014 @06:00PM (#46190169)

    Senkaku, Taiwan, Phillipines.
    Three reasons for the Chinese to have a nice toy that scares the shit out of US carrier groups.
    Anyone closer than Okinawa will be likely to get sunk, and missiles are a lot cheaper than carriers.

    The journalist isn't playing chicken little, the military complex wants funding to prepare for a significant threat to the US hegemony.

  • by sugarmatic (232216) on Friday February 07, 2014 @06:11PM (#46190307)

    ...and asymmetric, then the only legitimate targets for an adversary become the public citizens that fund the efforts.

    If no military response can ever be effective, it is the only thing left. We call it terrorism now, but it will be business as usual in the near future. Drones bombing your weddings?

    Bomb their weddings. And schools and anything else.

    The only limits to empire are consequences. When an empire can inflict with no fear of retribution to overtly military assets, other targets of retribution will be placed at risk.

  • by RubberDogBone (851604) on Friday February 07, 2014 @10:53PM (#46192617)

    The core, loyal, long time users need to be generating some revenue, because that's all that matters to sites like this. Sure, they may have core, loyal, long time users. But companies would cash in all of them for some knitting forums if that would bring in revenue somehow.

    Or to use a more relevant example, the news site Newsvine once had many core, loyal, long time users who contributed stories to the site much as we have editors here submitting stories (several times over in most cases). The community at Newsvine thrived on the discussion model and generally had a good time even when there was disagreement.

    Then MSNBC bought Newsvine, let it become a festering cesspool of political attacks -imagine if EVERY story on /. became red state versus blue, and insightful posts were reduced to the commentary version of apes flinging poo. Sure Slashdot has some of that. But imagine it ALL like that. That's what Newsvine became. And then, they used it to develop what is now the current NBC news website. You need to see it. Oh golly you should see it.

    All of that crap was done in the name of generating revenue. That's what happens when dollar signs become the most important thing. Dice is already heading that way with Slashdot. Eventually they will push the button and flush Slashdot. Cash is king. And we don't generate enough. I don't think we ever could either because no matter WHAT we do, there will always be this thought in their heads that they can get more money, if only... if only they do THIS or sell THAT.

Uncompensated overtime? Just Say No.