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

North Korean ICBM Appears Able to Reach Major US Cities

, co-director and senior scientist

Based on current information, today’s missile test by North Korea could easily reach the US West Coast, and a number of major US cities. Read more >

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Reentry Heating from North Korea’s July 4 Missile Test

, co-director and senior scientist

In a previous post, I estimated what North Korea could have learned from its May 14 Hwasong-12 missile test that is relevant to developing a reentry vehicle (RV) for a longer range missile.

I’ve updated the numbers in that post for the July 4 missile test (Table 1). In particular, I compare several measures of the heating experienced by the RV on the July 4 test to what would be experienced by the same RV on a 10,000 km-range missile on a standard trajectory (MET). Read more >

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North Korea Appears to Launch Missile with 6,700 km Range

, co-director and senior scientist

Current reports of North Korea’s July 4 missile test say the missile had a range of “more that 930 km” (580 miles), and flew for 37 minutes (according to US Pacific Command).

A missile of that range would need to fly on a very highly lofted trajectory to have such a long flight time.

Assuming a range of 950 km, then a flight time of 37 minutes would require it to reach a maximum altitude of more than 2,800 km (1700 miles).

So if the reports are correct, that same missile could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km (4,160 miles) on a standard trajectory.

That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska.

There is not enough information yet to determine whether this launch could be done with a modified version of the Hwasong-12 missile that was launched on May 14.

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Tillerson, Mattis and the Chinese

, China project manager and senior analyst

Rex Tillerson and James Mattis are talking to their Chinese counterparts. The conversation is just getting started but it appears to be constructive. Their remarks to the press after a recent meeting in Washington with State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui should calm Asian fears about potentially destabilizing changes to US policy in the region. Read more >

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What You Should Know about the Upcoming GMD Missile Defense Test: Part 2

, senior scientist

The upcoming missile defense test will also be the first intercept test of a new kill vehicle and will use an upgraded booster for the interceptor. Read more >

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