If you were of voting age during the Reagan administration, you may recall some of the criticism President Ronald Reagan endured for introducing the concept of a ‘star wars’ missile defense system. Reagan knew the capabilities of our adversaries. He also knew that outer space would be the next frontier of military development. Some 30 years later, his forward thinking has proved correct.
Although claims have not yet been verified, China says it is on the verge of having a viable hypersonic missile that could reach U.S. shores in mere minutes. Even if they have not yet mastered the technology, we at least know they are working on it. That’s why the current administration, as part of its missile defense review, has called for the development and deployment of new space sensors capable of tracking hypersonic missiles.
Current Defenses Are Inadequate
The U.S. has protected itself and our allies over the last several decades with an array of air, ground, and sea-based assets. Those assets include advanced radar, infrared sensors, and interceptor technologies. But none of what we have at the current moment is capable of tracking and intercepting hypersonic missiles. If China were to launch one today, we would be defenseless.
Scientists say that the only viable way to deal with hypersonic missiles is to track them from outer space. Sensors in space are not subject to the same kinds of limitations as they are on earth. They are more flexible. They can move much more quickly. We can do things in space that we cannot do otherwise. It is that simple.
If you haven’t figured it out, this is why we need a new array of space sensors. We have to be able to defend against hypersonic threats we know will eventually be real. If it’s not China tomorrow, it might be North Korea a few months from now. Russia could develop hypersonic weapons just as quickly. The threats are not merely imagined. We must be prepared for them.
Developing the Space Sensor Layer
At Rock West Solutions in California, advanced sensors defense applications is a normal part of business. They say that it is not surprising that the current administration has awarded tens of millions of dollars in contracts in hopes of developing new sensors under a project previously known as the Space Sensor Layer.
A new program known as the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) program is essentially the latest iteration of the Space Sensor Layer initiative. Under this new program, contractors will race to see who can develop the first hypersonic and ballistic missile tracking system based in space.
They Must Succeed
It goes without saying that the participating contractors must succeed in their task. One of them – if not all of them – have to come up with a space sensor array that meets military needs both now and in the long-term future. Not having such a system would make us extremely vulnerable at such time as our potential foes have hypersonic missiles ready to go.
Like Reagan’s star wars initiative, this latest initiative puts American technology and know-how at the forefront of developing the next generation of missile defense. We have a long history of technological innovation that has kept the United States at the forefront of global defense. We are well-positioned to lead the rest of the world in the space sensor arena.
In the meantime, companies like Rock West Solutions are working hard on the latest cutting-edge technologies. They are doing their part to keep us all safe.