The new weapon is designed to search, track and destroy the enemy’s warhead, even if it is accompanied by false baits.
Defensive weapons, capable of intercepting and destroying enemy missiles before they harm the United States or its allies, have been a key part of military strategy for decades. But the rules of the game have changed.
An increasing number of countries are developing or already possessing long-range missile technology. Including those that can carry warheads, known as Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) and / or deception.
“Russia and China are installing MIRVs on their ballistic missiles. The 2014 report confirmed that Iran has developed several Launchers (MRVs). The cold war described in the literature says that MIRVs are the first strike weapons and can be strategically destabilizing, ”the independent consultant Debalina Goshal wrote for the Federation of American Scientists in a 2016 report.
“The United States understands this threat and is working on a reliable missile defense system,” she said.
Last year, the US Missile Defense Agency signed a contract with Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing to create a project called Multi-Object Kill Vehicle or MOKV, which could destroy several objects in space at once with one launch. “10 years ago we could remove one object with one interceptor. Now the potential has doubled, ”said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org.
Raytheon plans to revise the concepts in December to load several MOKVs per rocket. Each MOKV will be equipped with sensors, a steering system, a power plant and communications equipment, which will allow them to focus on one target and hit it, destroying the object with sheer kinetic forces.
The experiment will be conducted outside the Earth's sphere, but on a trajectory that will send the created trash cloud back into the atmosphere for combustion.
The main technical snag is to figure out how to distinguish between bombs and baits (for example, balloons that look like they have a hydrogen bomb on board).
The military hopes to launch conceptual demonstrations at the end of next year, and a non-intercept flight test in 2018. If successful, the agency plans to perform an interception test in 2019.