Starting with the era of the Cold War, there has been the (sometimes) small yet ever-present fear of mutually assured destruction via an exchange of nuclear weapons between warring parties, and that fear has prompted much research into how nuclear missiles could be intercepted and destroyed before utterly annihilating their intended targets.
According to Seeker, such worries have grown somewhat in recent years as America’s chief rivals, namely China, Russia, and to a lesser extent, Iran, have developed what are known as Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles, long-range missiles capable of carrying numerous nuclear warheads that could destroy a number of targets from a single missile launch.
“Both China and Russia possess the MIRV capability for their ballistic missiles. In 2014, reports confirmed that Iran too had developed Multiple Re-entry Vehicles for their ballistic missiles. Cold War literature suggests that MIRVs are first-strike weapons and could be strategically destabilizing,” independent consultant Debalina Ghoshal to the Federation of American Scientists explained in a June 2016 report.
“The United States realizes these threats and is working toward a robust missile defense system,” she added.
Along those lines, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency awarded contracts in 2015 to Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon to begin developing a special countermeasure to be used against enemy MIRVS, to be known as a Multi-Object Kill Vehicle, a similarly designed missile capable of holding its own multiple warheads that could independently target and destroy the enemy warheads while still traversing space and before reentering earth’s atmosphere in a descent toward the target.
Raytheon, which is preparing for a review of their proposed design in mid-December, believes it has figured out a method for actually loading several MOKVs into a single missile for deployment into space. Each individual MOKV would be outfitted with various sensors, propulsion and steering units and communications systems that would enable it to home in on individual targets and destroy them through the force of kinetic energy.
Military experts are hopeful that the designers will be able to demonstrate proof-of-concept at some point in 2017, followed by a non-intercept test flight in 2018 and finally a test flight with a successful interception by 2019 before producing and deploying the new weapons.
This sends a clear message to our nation’s rivals that should they ever attempt to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons against us, we will be ready and capable of shooting down their warheads long before they reach their targets, while launching counter-strikes they most likely won’t be similarly capable of defending against.
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H/T The Daily Caller