It’s a threat that makes modern defense planners shiver. Small turbojets are not uncommon, even as basic GPS receiver technology has become cheap, and guidance systems sophisticated enough to fly unmanned aerial vehicles are being developed all over the world. If fuel efficiency, speed, range, and pinpoint accuracy aren’t driving concerns, they wonder, how hard and how cheap could it really be to slap together a cruise missile from nearly off-the-shelf parts, then fire it from a container ship offshore, flying 200 miles or more to its designated target area? And in an age of falling technology curves, what cargoes might such a weapon contain?
Just as anti-ballistic missile technology is developing itself for the coming age of the rogue state, America’s nets are slowly being drawn up against the cruise missile threat from those states… and one day, of less-than-states. Persistent surveillance is reaching beyond the limitations of aircraft, and into constant surveillance using lighter-then-air platforms like JLENS tethered aerostats, HAA airships with huge flexible IRIS radars, and even Navy blimps. Fighters are being fitted with AESA radars as the cost of T/R modules drops, and interlocking land and naval defenses include SM-2/3 missiles, mobile SLAMRAAM and MEADS missile launchers, and longer-range systems like THAAD that can be used against air-breathing threats in a pinch. All this is being networked into a single net via developments like Cooperative Engagement Capability, and more. In time, logic will also demand investments like very long-range supersonic ramjet air-air missiles to extend the intercept circle of patrolling aerial platforms, or threaten key enemy assets like AWACS and tankers behind the front lines. All this and more lies ahead, born of necessity in America – and beyond.
The scope of this threat makes for a daunting scenario when one considers the long coastlines of nations like the USA/Canada, India, Australia, Britain, et. al. Beyond the threat, however, some American military planners looked into this crystal ball and saw something more – an opportunity. It’s also an opportunity for 3 firms…
- Deep Strike, and the One Punch Syndrome
- Affordable Weapon: Contracts & Key Events [updated]
- Additional Readings