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DOD focused on hypersonic missile defense development

Cruise missiles follow unpredictable flight paths and are now capable of supersonic and hypersonic speeds.

Russia and China are developing advanced cruise missiles that can be launched from aircraft, ground launchers and ships or submarines, along with hypersonic missile capabilities.

Navy Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, director, Missile Defense Agency, discussed the defense against these missiles during testimony May 11, 2022, at a House Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2023 strategic forces missile defense and missile defeat programs.

The Missile Defense Agency mission is to develop and deploy a layered missile defense system to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies and friends from missile attacks in all phases of flight, he said.

In March 2023, MDA, in conjunction with the U.S. Space Force and Space Development Agency plans a launch of two interoperable prototype satellites, he said.

Those satellites will collect sensor tracking data to ensure dim targets, meaning cruise missiles, can be pinpointed from space, he said adding that if successful, that will be a new and important capability in hypersonic defense.

The admiral also mentioned development of glide phase intercept capability which would add to layered defense.

John F. Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy; Air Force Lt. Gen. John E. Shaw, deputy commander, U.S. Space Command; and Army Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, Army Space and Missile Defense Command commander, also testified.

The International Space Station releases the Cygnus cargo vessel S.S. Katherine Johnson over southern Wyoming in the U.S. on June 30. As a secondary mission, the Cygnus cargo vessel deployed a U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Assured Position Navigation and Timing/Space Cross Functional Team Gunsmoke-J joint capability technology demonstration satellite. (NASA photo)

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