THE US is developing a new wave of missile defence systems which will take out enemy targets in space.
Military experts claim this is the realisation of President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defence programme.
In the 1980s, President Reagan aimed to take the Cold War against the Soviet Union into space through the Strategic Defence Initiative.
Nicknamed “Star Wars”, the scheme would have seen the creation of a missile defence system to protect the US from attack by nuclear weapons.
The programme was never realised, but as war tensions between the US and many of its rival superpowers rise, a new missile defence system which will stop enemy attacks in space is in development.
“The new threat potentially posed by hypersonic missiles is more limited in scope but also in some ways more challenging”
Steve Trimble, Defence Editor, Aviation Week
US army chiefs are creating the Glide Breaker defence system which is designed to stop hypersonic and supersonic missiles on the early arc of their route which seems them pass outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) showcased the new interceptor at its D60 Symposium, honouring the organisation’s 60th anniversary in September
In a statement, DARPA said: “The objective of the Glide Breaker program is to further the capability of the United States to defend against supersonic and the entire class of hypersonic threats.
“Of particular interest are component technologies that radically reduce risk for development and integration of an operational, hard-kill system.”
Speaking to Daily Star Online, defence editor of Aviation Week Steve Trimble explained why the new generation of high-speed weapons had made it obvious to US military bosses of the need to develop a new defence system.
Trimble said: “The new threat potentially posed by hypersonic missiles is more limited in scope but also in some ways more challenging.”
He went on: “Unlike missiles with predictable ballistic trajectories, hypersonic missiles are slower but manoeuvre in unpredictable ways, which vastly complicates the problem of trying to shoot them down.
“You can precisely calculate the entire flight path of a ballistic rocket after it launches once you establish a few bits of data.
Trimble added: “You can’t do that with a hypersonic weapon that has the ability to manoeuvre using aerodynamics, as opposed to purely ballistic, forces.”
A long-time aviation and missile expert, Trimble explained that for many in the US, the Cold War-era threat is still very real.
“Reagan’s SDI, also known as Star Wars, was aimed at countering the existential threat posed by thousands of Soviet ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads,” he continued.
“That threat still exists.”
And he said the US’s current missile defence systems were hopelessly unprepared currently to face a hypersonic or supersonic missile threat.
“The defences we have are aimed at shooting down small numbers of ballistic missiles, which is a threat mainly limited to the so-called ‘rogue’ states like North Korea and Iran,” he said.
Recently, Trimble told Daily Star Online why the US, Russia, and China are triggering a second cold war with their upsurge in new hypersonic missiles.
The news comes as Russia steps up its hypersonic arms race with a new generation of Russian fighter jets which can hit targets up to 250 miles away.