Missiles and Missile Defense

Our experts weigh in on security issues with U.S. national missile defense and nuclear weapons around the world.


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Latest Missiles and Missile Defense Posts

Is the United States Planning a Nuclear-Armed, Intercontinental-Range, Hypersonic Missile?

, Kendall fellow

Last month the US Air Force accidentally released a document soliciting proposals for upgrades to its Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) now under development and slated to replace the current nuclear-armed ICBM fleet. This document indicated interest in a hypersonic glider modification to the GBSD, prompting speculation that the United States might be planning a nuclear-armed hypersonic missile.

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The Latest US Test Flight of a Hypersonic Weapon: the Common Hypersonic Glide Body

, Kendall fellow

A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility during a Defense Department flight experiment, Kauai, Hawaii, March 19, 2020. Oscar Sosa/Navy.

The United States Department of Defense has been actively developing hypersonic weapons—missiles that fly through the atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound—since the early 2000s. Read More

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US Should Extend the New START Nuclear Weapons Treaty To Make Us All Safer

, former co-director

Obama and Medvedev signing the New START treaty (Source: White House photo)

According to an AP News story, last Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the fate of the 2010 New START agreement, as well as potential future agreements to limit nuclear weapons.

Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s desire to extend New START from February 2021 until 2026 and clarified that two of Russia’s new weapon systems would be covered under the treaty. This alone should be reason for the United States to extend New START. But Russia has also said it is open to negotiating a new treaty that would limit other Russian weapons systems now under development.

This is a no-brainer. It is foolhardy for the United States to throw out something good because it wants something better, leaving it with nothing.

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Fitting Hypersonic Weapons into the Nuclear Arms Control Regime

, Kendall fellow

Former President Barack Obama signed the instrument of ratification of the New START Treaty in the Oval Office on Feb. 2, 2011. The only active treaty limiting the deployment of US and Russian nuclear weapons, New START does not explicitly restrict hypersonic missiles.

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The Accuracy of Hypersonic Weapons: Media Claims Miss the Mark

, Kendall fellow

Hypersonics weaponry—an emerging missile technology that sends warheads gliding through the atmosphere at high speeds—has garnered a great deal of attention in the press. In a recent post I showed that claims of their “revolutionary” advantages are highly exaggerated. Hypersonic weapons travel more slowly than existing ballistic missiles, can be detected by existing satellite technologies, and do not meaningfully alter the balance between missile offense and defense.
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