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The Military

The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban 322

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
Lasrick writes Mark Gubrud has a fascinating piece arguing for the U.S. to lead the way in calling for a ban on the testing of hypersonic missiles, a technology that the U.S. has been developing for decades. China has also started testing these weapons, which proponents optimistically claim would not be used to deliver nuclear weapons. Russia, India, and a few other countries are also joining in the fray, so a ban on testing would stop an arms race in its tracks. The article discusses the two types of hypersonic technology, and whether that technology has civilian applications.
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The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:18PM (#47820515)

    Sounds fair...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sounds fair...

      Not so much.
      Hypersonic missiles are the only weapons that could hit an american supercarrier and hence limit the US ability to project force around the world.

      Want to ban hypersonic missiles ? Ok. In return let's ban supercarriers. Now this is fair for all parties involved.
      Otherwise it's the standard way that the US maintains militray superiority over the rest of us.

      • by mythosaz (572040) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @07:46PM (#47821751)

        There's no ban on China (or anyone else) on building supercarriers.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Err, China is already in the process of acquiring carriers, at least some of which definitely qualify for the "supercarrier" nonsense-name. They purchased the Soviet Varyag (67,500 tons, ski-jump takeoff, arrested landing, conventional steam propulsion), renamed Liaoning. J-15 mach 2.4 fighters first landed on Liaoning in 2012.

          The Type 081 domestic build is 35,000+ tons, conventional propulsion, a helicopter/VTOL/troop carrier. The Type 089 will be 60,000+ tons, conventional propulsion. And the Type 085 wil

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          supercarriers are expensive - on the stupidly ludicrous level of expensive, hypersonic missiles potentially not so much and can be exported and don't need billions to keep them operational.

          so banning technology that could potentially cheaply destroy supercarriers would work in USA's favor. why would everyone else agree to such a ban though I got no idea. heck, what they're proposing to ban is "very fast objects"... yeehaaw. no.

          it doesn't affect nuclear threat at all, only the threat to conventional weapons

      • by fnj (64210) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:42PM (#47822017)

        Hypersonic missiles are the only weapons that could hit an american supercarrier

        Incorrect. There are plenty of ways to take out an aircraft carrier. The most obvious and least defensible way is to torpedo it from a submarine. Other ways clearly exist. You can overwhelm it with a mass attack using aircraft, conventional cruise missiles, torpedo boats, etc. Once a carrier and its very limited escort screen use up their antiaircraft and antimissile ammunition, it is a sitting duck. You can strew mines in front of it. You want to give it a severe nightmare? Just consider what you could do moored in its pathetically poorly defended home base or forward base.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jopsen (885607)

        Otherwise it's the standard way that the US maintains militray superiority over the rest of us.

        I'm not a US citizen, but if "the rest of us" is China and Russia, I'm okay with US military superiority.. Seriously, it's not like European governments are particularly interested in jumping an arms race and spending money on military research.

        Oh, and both Russia, China and India certainly ought to find better things to spend their money on... like food, education, etc...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Test it on ISIS/ISIL first.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Charliemopps (1157495)

      Sounds fair...

      Even worse, all this would do is end Public testing and relegate it to secret testing. Something that's easy for first world countries to do, but would prevent countries like India and Pakistan from keeping their arsenal in any way equivalent to the rest of the worlds.

      I actually do believe there wouldn't be use for nukes. Not for any moral reasons, but because I'm fairly certain the big players like the US already have warhead equipped platforms in space. They'd be easier, faster and cheaper than a hyperson

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There is no such thing as a secret hypersonic missile. It's a ballistic missile launch, followed by something screaming through the air at Mach 6+.

        And it'd be pointless anyway, since there'd just be research into hypersonic planes.
        Then hypersonic drones.
        Then hypersonic drones with large cargo bays near the front.

      • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:39PM (#47821993) Journal

        There's a real sense in which hypersonic missiles are an alternative to nukes: bunker busting. To bust a deep bunker (think 10+ meters of concrete, itself deep underground) is no easy task. A nuke works, but nuke ground bursts are particularly nasty (airbursts have limited and contained fallout, ground bursts toss fallout high up into the atmosphere to spread with the wind). Get a kinetic weapon up to Mach 10 and that works too.

        There were plans at one point to drop heavy penetrators (old 5" gun barrels from decommissioned battleships IIRC, very hard steel) from orbit if needed, but that was barely doable and quite expensive. Still, it shows the magnitude of the problem.

        All the big players have signed "no nukes in space" treaties, of course, but you may be right that they have them anyhow, much to your point about secret testing.

  • by borcharc (56372) * on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:20PM (#47820533)

    So we can follow the ban and everyone else cheat?

    • by john.r.strohm (586791) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:58PM (#47820889)

      That was PRECISELY what happened when Eisenhower signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union.

      • I wasn't aware Eisenhower signed a test ban treaty with the USSR...
        Perhaps you're thinking of Kennedy? Can you cite a evidence that it was unilaterally broken by the USSR?
    • From TFA, "Such tests are easily observable from space and via radar and signals intelligence gathering (not to mention old-fashioned human spying)." The proposed ban is on testing hypersonic missiles. You can develop them all you want, just cannot test them (testing of which is easily observable). This is not something you can cheat.

      • by jafac (1449) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:21PM (#47821095) Homepage

        Jesus: Russia signed a treaty to not invade Ukraine, in exchange for Ukraine's nuclear disarmament. Ukraine disarmed. First nation to do so in the history of nuclear weapons. Then Russia invaded. You want to trust them with another treaty? Suckers!

        • by styrotech (136124) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @07:28PM (#47821629)

          Ukraine disarmed. First nation to do so in the history of nuclear weapons.

          I thought that was South Africa?

        • Jesus: Russia signed a treaty to not invade Ukraine, in exchange for Ukraine's nuclear disarmament. Ukraine disarmed. First nation to do so in the history of nuclear weapons. Then Russia invaded. You want to trust them with another treaty? Suckers!

          Well, Russia already has enough test data to just rely just on computer modeling and simulations to develop one. Just like the US. The point is not to impose the treaty on the stronger nations, but the developing and weaker ones. Iran, NK, and the likes. You get to bomb Iran for breaking the treaty (if they signup for it). This is how treaties work, whether you like it or not.

          Ukraine made a really bad deal, I agree on that. US was stupid to force/encourage Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons too. That d

          • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @07:55PM (#47821813)

            Let me just add one more thing. Treaties that are not backed by military support from other countries are useless. Ukraine's agreement falls under this. The treaty could still be useful to Ukraine, who knows NATO might help Ukraine with it, and go on war with Russia. It is still too early to see how Ukraine invasion turns out.

        • by MikeKD (549924)

          Ukraine disarmed. First nation to do so in the history of nuclear weapons. /p>

          Wrong. South Africa [wikipedia.org] was the first nation to give up nuclear weapons.

        • by X.25 (255792)

          Jesus: Russia signed a treaty to not invade Ukraine, in exchange for Ukraine's nuclear disarmament. Ukraine disarmed. First nation to do so in the history of nuclear weapons. Then Russia invaded. You want to trust them with another treaty? Suckers!

          I seriously can't figure out what is wrong with you people.

          Russia invaded? Do you mind showing some evidence for those claims, or you just like spreading shit that you read in mainstream media?

          You know how invasion looks like? If you are not sure, you can always take a look at invasion of Iraq by 'coallition of the willing' to get the idea. Or you can also look at invasion of Kuwait by Iraq to get an idea. There are many examples.

          But pretending that civili war (and I've lived through 2 of them, so I kind of

    • Everyone else in the fray is already simulating nuclear weapon designs on supercomputers.

      The hydrodynamic calculations are similar enough the military isn't going to share code with the hyperflight guys, so this will just become another black project to be run by the same people. :)

      This just gives justification for the research disappearing, and stopping any amateur work.

  • You really think China would stop testing because of a treaty?

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HO

  • How often does a ban stop anything in its tracks?

    Bans only stop the good guys in their tracks.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      False.
      Bans have worked well many times.

      • Re:stopping who? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:58PM (#47820887) Homepage Journal

        False.
        Bans have worked well many times.

        Yea, like Prohibition.. oh, wait, that was an abject failure... OK, then, drug prohibit... no, wait, that's a failure, too... maybe gun bans? No, no, people still kill each other with other weapons, so those don't work.

        I guess what I'm saying here is, [citation needed]

        • Re:stopping who? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:16PM (#47821053) Homepage

          Those things have absolutely nothing in common with what we're talking about.

          The only similar agreement was the nuclear test ban. When you test a nuclear bomb, it creates an earthquake that everyone can detect. A hypersonic shockwave is easily detectable by satellites.

          The deterrent to breaking this treaty is that you would definitely get caught.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by john.r.strohm (586791)

            And, yet again, that is PRECISELY what happened when Eisenhower signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union.

            We knew IMMEDIATELY when the Soviets abrogated the treaty. They set off a whole slew of very dirty atmospheric test shots.

            The treaty DIDN'T stop them from doing the tests.

            Fear of detection of their cheating DIDN'T stop them from cheating.

            • Re:stopping who? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by mdielmann (514750) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:53PM (#47821353) Homepage Journal

              Moreover, testing was at a less critical phase. Nuclear test bans weren't going to get rid of nuclear bombs, or even necessarily improvements in them. It would just slow them down. If they had followed them in the first place.

              What has been somewhat more effective is using various means to keep more nations from joining the nuclear club. But that is because getting the details right (the first time) is kind of hard, especially when sabotage is involved. I suspect you'll see a similar trend here, with the big players getting them and then trying to stop the smaller players from getting them.

            • Re:stopping who? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @07:08PM (#47821473) Homepage

              The 1958 treaty fell apart for a variety of reasons, The 1963 version was a success.

            • by fnj (64210)

              How is this informative? Please tell us exactly what Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by Eisenhower. Eisenhower certainly began efforts for such a ban, but he never signed such a treaty. Kennedy did (a limited ban treaty), in 1963.

              The Soviets did unilaterally halt their own nuclear testing in 1958, calling on the US and UK to reciprocate. And Eisenhower did then reciprocate. Negotiations toward a treaty began, but that treaty was not signed until 1963. The moratorium collapsed in 1961 on both sides.

              THAT D

          • A hypersonic shockwave is easily detectable by satellites.

            [Citation Needed]

        • by geekoid (135745)

          The goal of prohibition was to reduce domestic violence.
          It did, it reduced it to almost 0%. It was repealed to make up for the loss in taxes from the great depression, not because it didn't accomplish it's goals.
          AS a side benefit, suicides were cut in half. This is all trivial too look up.
          Drugs:
          Some drug it has worked in limiting, others it hasn't. I never said it worked all the time.

          Guns:
          Every country that has had a gun ban strongly enforced has had a reduction in homicides. Every. Single. One.

          It's fallac

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Guns: Every country that has had a gun ban strongly enforced has had a reduction in homicides. Every. Single. One.

            But violent crime goes up though, as criminals feel they can commit crimes without a risk of meeting an armed owner for instance.

            • Re:stopping who? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by forand (530402) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @09:56PM (#47822289) Homepage
              Do you have any citation for your assertion?
    • by Dishevel (1105119)
      Never. It is mostly meant to make hippies feel good about things they are not doing.
  • by stevew (4845) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:22PM (#47820563) Journal

    So this comes along just as Russia drops the word "Nuclear" to remind everyone that they have them.

    Are you naive enough to believe the Russia would bother to show up to negotiate about this?

    One also wonders what the people of Ukraine think about such a well timed suggestion.

    • by Shatrat (855151) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:38PM (#47820731)

      Also what is happening in the Ukraine is a clear message about what happens to countries stupid enough to take Nuclear Disarmament seriously.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        Do you really think that would \have stopped Russia separatists?
        It wouldn't have because they know the Ukraine wouldn't use them, or do you seriously believe the Ukraine would have used nukes on it's own soil?

        If Russia threaten the Ukraine with nuclear force, then the US, and others, will step in.

        Ukrainian nuclear disarmament is a red herring.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Do you really think that would \have stopped Russia separatists?

          Yes, because a huge part of that game was the massive military support from Russia and the previous puppet government sponsored by Russia.

          If Russia threaten the Ukraine with nuclear force, then the US, and others, will step in.

          And do what? Disapprove with lots of words?

        • by jafac (1449)

          Russia has already threatened Ukraine with nuclear force. No, I don't think the US will step in.

          • The United States isn't going to war with Russia over the Ukraine.

            Sometimes it helps to look at things the other way around.

            If Florida seceded from the American union, would the Russians give two kopecks?

            • If Florida seceded from the American union, would the Russians give two kopecks?

              Bad analogy. What's happening in Ukraine is more like the USA supporting Canadian and/or Mexican rebels with an eye to picking up a province or two up north or a state or two down south"....

      • In the early 90s, Ukraine didn't *want* the nukes that the Soviet Union had put there. Maintaining a nuclear arsenal requires a bunch of money that they didn't have.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

      So this comes along just as Russia drops the word "Nuclear" to remind everyone that they have them.

      Are you naive enough to believe the Russia would bother to show up to negotiate about this?

      One also wonders what the people of Ukraine think about such a well timed suggestion.

      Putin can and will rattle his Nuclear saber but he won't use it until the utmost end of need so at the moment those are empty threats. The Ukraine situation could have been solved following the downing of MH17 by making it clear that any move of Russian regulars into the Ukraine and any support for insurgents would be regarded as an act of war. Failing that the thing to do would have been to match Russian support of the Insurgents with direct aid to the Ukrainian military. The most extreme reaction and the

      • by jader3rd (2222716)

        Putin can and will rattle his Nuclear saber but he won't use it until the utmost end of need so at the moment those are empty threats.

        [Citation Needed]

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:28PM (#47820643) Homepage
    The argument is at heart "Don't develop these weapons because they will be good at killing people and I personally am not smart enough to come up with a civilan use that doesn't kill people".

    It is the kind of idiocy that makes the military industrial complex laugh and call you names.

    There are good reasons to ban weapons - but not just because the weapon is good at killing people. To those in the military, effectiveness at killing people is a reason to BUILD the weapon, not ban it.

    Chemical are banned not because they kill people, but because they are likely to kill civilians and your own soldiers as much as they kill the enemy. They also people and damage valuable land after you win.

    A similar argument applies to biological weapons, land mines and nuclear weapons.

    There is NOTHING in this article that would convince a soldier to ban the weapons. Instead, any military person, upon reading it will of course demand that we spend lots of money figuring out how to build hypersonic missiles.

    If you dislike war, ban it. But you are probably not naive enough to try that. You would lose the argument because such an attempt has many many flaws. Well guess what - trying to ban weapon research because the weapon is too goo is just as naive.

    WORST of all, your naive and foolish attempts make it much harder to ban the weapons we actually CAN ban - land mines, chemical and biological warfare.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It was called the Kellogg-Briand Pact [battleswarmblog.com]. "The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another."

      How well did that work out?

      It was signed in 1928. Good thing there have been no wars since then...

    • by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:48PM (#47820813) Homepage

      The argument is at heart "Don't develop these weapons because they will be good at killing people and I personally am not smart enough to come up with a civilan use that doesn't kill people".
      It is the kind of idiocy that makes the military industrial complex laugh and call you names.

      I think the big issue with these weapons is that they *will* become nuclear payload delivery systems, and as first-strike weapons they would be very hard if not impossible to stop (not that good defense industry $$ won't be spent trying). First-strike weaponry generally enables the crazy/unstable countries and their leaders to exert their will over the rest of the world, while not exactly providing much in terms of benefits to larger, more well nuclear established countries.

      Banning this kind of testing isn't new - we did have a nuclear test ban for several decades [1]

      [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:00PM (#47820919) Homepage Journal

        I think the big issue with these weapons is that they *will* become nuclear payload delivery systems

        Which seems kind of idiotic, to me, since one could use kinetic bombardment (Rods from God) instead of nuclear weapons, and avoid all that nasty fallout badness.

        • by brambus (3457531)
          What if your point *is* to cause fallout badness.
        • by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:09PM (#47822635) Homepage Journal

          Why are we modding up "I don't understand conservation of energy"? The only kinetic energy weapon that could sort of replace nuclear bombs would be bombardment with large asteroids, which no one currently has the capability to do and if they did would take ages to arrive. The kinetic rods would make great orbital armor or bunker piercing weapons, but there's no way they'll replace nuclear weapons.

          • by jader3rd (2222716)

            Why are we modding up "I don't understand conservation of energy"? The only kinetic energy weapon that could sort of replace nuclear bombs would be bombardment with large asteroids, which no one currently has the capability to do and if they did would take ages to arrive. The kinetic rods would make great orbital armor or bunker piercing weapons, but there's no way they'll replace nuclear weapons.

            I think it is getting modded up because they're an option now. 50 years ago certain targets were only really attainable via nuclear strikes. But now we have some really strong conventional weapons that don't replace a nuclear weapon in absolute magnitude, but they are strong enough to take out the target, and not leave you with the ethical dilemma of using a nuclear weapon.

      • by brambus (3457531)
        I'm not convinced of the first-strike capability of hypersonic vehicles. Even at fairly highly hypersonic speeds (M10), the vehicle still takes considerable amounts of time to travel a substantial distance (1000km takes about 5 minutes at M10) - by that time satellite-based detection systems can react and a ground-based counter strike can be initiated (modern ground-based ICBMs can launch in less than 30s, and SLBMs are also an option). At certain distances a good exo-atmospheric missile on a depressed traj
      • by khallow (566160)

        and as first-strike weapons they would be very hard if not impossible to stop

        No harder than ICBMs.

        First-strike weaponry generally enables the crazy/unstable countries

        Who aren't known for their adherence to treaty. We are extremely fortunate that development of nuclear weapons in the first place is hard enough that our current crop of crazy/unstable countries hasn't been able to develop them. I think it would be a terrible assumption to assume that anyone who does manage to do that, isn't going to try to develop delivery methods with continued disregard for international treaty as well.

      • Remember, MAD isn't about the first strike. It's about the unstoppable second strike.
        A dozen shitty ass Scuds are a suitable first strike weapon for short-range theaters. You've still dug a glowing grave by employing them with nuclear ordnance.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      A similar argument applies to biological weapons, land mines and nuclear weapons. (...) WORST of all, your naive and foolish attempts make it much harder to ban the weapons we actually CAN ban - land mines, chemical and biological warfare.

      It's funny how that list changed from first to second time you said it. The countries most interested in banning biological and chemical weapons are those most heavily invested in nuclear weapons. Perhaps because nukes are pretty hard to come by while even two bit dictators like Saddam and Assad have chemical weapons. Not to mention land mines, IEDs are pretty indiscriminate if civilians happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but they're a staple of most guerrilla warfare.

      My impression is that we

    • by radtea (464814)

      The argument is at heart "Don't develop these weapons because they will be good at killing people and I personally am not smart enough to come up with a civilan use that doesn't kill people".

      Well, it's from the Bulletin of the Perrenially Dishonest, so what do you expect? A bunch of liars who dishonestly characterize themselves as somehow representing some part of the scientific community is hardly going to consist of smart people, are they?

      I've not RTFM'd because I try not to let bulletinshit touch my eyeballs, but hypersonic technology certainly has civilian uses. The aerospike, for example, is an instance of hypersonic propulsion that has possible applications in satellite launching and real

    • by Misagon (1135)

      Soldiers don't ban weapons. Civilian politicians of civilized countries do. There are international treaties banning the war-time use of cluster bombs, hollow-point bullets and flame throwers.
      All of them are quite effective, and horrible.

  • All missiles have civilian applications: governments can use them to blow up civilians, and malcontent citizens who can get their hands on the can use them to blow up governments.

    And other governments are always there to provide missiles to the malcontents.

  • The US would stop building and researching and every other country in the world would continue. But hey, a BAN on evil horrible weapons makes good soundbites for low information voters...
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Answer this question?
      Why are the banning them.
      Then address that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I can only really think of any reason why America would be concerned about this.

        Hypersonic guided missiles are one of the few credible threats against the american carrier fleet that does not currently have a viable countermeasure. America's carrier fleet is its primary method of projecting its military power. There is no other reason to be against the development of such weapons really as there is no particular increased risk of civilian collateral damage or anything like the potential misery caused by che

    • The US would stop openly building and researching...

      FTFY.

  • by youngatheart (1922394) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:53PM (#47820849)

    One rule I try to remember is to never make a rule that can't be enforced. With nuclear bombs, there is seismic and radioactive evidence, so you can know if somebody is breaking the treaty. I doubt that such a thing exists for hypersonic missiles.

    • I think you'd be surprised at the noise something slamming through atmosphere at greater than mach 5 makes.
    • The technology to track missile launches approaching 6000 km/h is ubiquitous.

      You couldn't get away with a secret launch, but the research could continue undetected.

  • Nuclear weapons are mainly not used right now because they are so damn slow. When you want to nuke someone on the otherside of the planet, you want them blown up right friggen now. Then some douche tells you, "Sir, the best we can do is 8 hours." and you're all "WHY THE FUCK DO WE HAVE THESE THINGS TO BEGIN WITH???' Clearly if we make nukes fast enough everyone will use them. Seriously though, with laser missile defense systems nowadays are hypersonic missiles really that big of a deal? I mean the syst
  • by kuzb (724081) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:03PM (#47820947)

    Seems to me that all this would do is stop the *open* development of these weapons. Even if everyone agrees not to make them, they will all still be making them.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:09PM (#47820999) Homepage Journal

    Because nothing works like wagging your finger and pretending something doesn't exist.

  • Um, no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:19PM (#47821077)

    A "ban", eh?

    Good actors would comply, bad actors would not. Then bad actors would have them, good actors wouldn't.

    And that's ... better? How?

  • I am a firm believer in the balance of power.

    The MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) has kept us safe for the past 60+ years through some really rough times. It seems to be our best bet to continue keeping us safe.

    • Mutually Assured Destruction is more of a pro than a con when considering certain element of society which are willing to, say, strap explosives to their chest and detonate them in a public venue. Projecting your morality onto others in order to predict behaviors is a dangerous game.

  • I'm wondering how they'll define hypersonic missile. All space launch vehicles are, in some versions of the definition, a hypersonic missile. All re-entry vehicles are, again, hypersonic missiles (some are hypersonic ballistic missiles).
  • by kbrannen (581293) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @07:05PM (#47821445)
    We already have hypersonic missles -- really! Most of the air-to-air missles shot from 1 plane to another are hypersonic and we've had these for decades. This is public knowledge.

    What the article is try to get banned is "long-range hypersonic missles", or if you prefer, the old ICBMs going a lot faster. If you could make a very small nuke and stick it in one of the existing missle cases; you could have a pretty awesome weapon if short distances are all you need (say in the 80-100 mile range from what I've read, definitely far enough the pilot wouldn't have to worry about getting caught in it). It'd be pretty easy to hit any coastal city from international air space that way.
  • I don't see any good reason to ban hypersonic cruise missiles. It's not enough to ban them on the grounds that they are deadly and serve no civilian purpose: war is about killing people. Previously, weapons have been banned in war on the grounds that they kill in an unusually horrific way, or aim to kill "innocent" targets, or kill indiscriminately, Hypersonic cruise missiles are none of these things.

    Hypersonic cruise missiles are an undistinguished weapon of war. There's no argument for banning them th

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