The Ballistic Missile Threat: Defense and Technology

By Hughes, James H. | The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

The Ballistic Missile Threat: Defense and Technology


Hughes, James H., The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies


The United States is at a crossroads. It has defined the ballistic missile threat in terms of a rogue nation, principally North Korea, which demonstrated on August 31, 1998, the ability to launch a three-stage ballistic missile capable of attacking the United States. But the ballistic missile threat has grown rapidly, going far beyond a threat from a single rogue nation. China's buildup of short, intermediate, and long-range ballistic missiles, and the proliferation of ballistic missiles to countries such as Iran, Syria, Libya, and Pakistan (the threat of war between Pakistan and India, with its broad repercussions: and China's threat to Northeastern India) have multiplied the ballistic missile threat.1 In this article, the author will discuss strategies and technologies of defense against these threats.

Key Words: Ballistic missiles, defenses to missiles, technologies of missile defense, missile proliferation, North Korea, China, Pakistan, Brilliant Pebbles, Brilliant Eyes, Space-Based Lasers, boost phase interception.

The ballistic missile threat has compounded. Countries such as Russia, China, and North Korea, involved in the proliferation of ballistic missiles, are forming strategic alliances. Russia and China have a strategic alliance, including the transfer of Russian SS-18 ballistic missile technology to China.2 North Korean leader Kim Jong-11 has visited China, and has received visits from the PLA.3 Russia and Iran have signed a formal military and security partnership.4 China and Iraq have formed a strategic alliance, profoundly altering the b-alance of power in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.5 With China and Iraq as allies, China's recent diplomatic initiatives with Syria and Iran, sending Vice President Hu Jintao, must be evaluated in a new light.6 China's ballistic missile assistance to Pakistan, and North Korea's ballistic missile sales to Syria and Libya compound the international implications.7

All of this means that a ballistic missile threat to the United States defined by a single rogue nation such as North Korea is outdated. The proliferation of ballistic missiles and alliances has increased the likelihood that a missile launched by one country will be connected to a missile launch or act of aggression by another. The United States, instead of facing a single rogue nation missile threat, is likely to face multiple threats. Moreover, the ballistic missile threat is becoming increasingly mobile, compounding the difficulty of using air power to suppress ballistic missile launches. And although some will ask whye we should worry about missile attacks when weapons of mass destruction can be smuggled into a tragetted country, the fact remains that when hundreds of ballistic missiles are in place, a country which has no protection against missiles is open to blackmail since it has no other defense that the dubious threat of retaliation after the event, or "mutual assured destruction".

And the potential for aggressive missile launches against the U.S. and other nations is real. We see China building the road-mobile DF-31 ICBM, the road-mobile DF-41 ICBM, and the submarine-launched JL-2. It has flight-tested the DF-31 ICBM four times in the past year and a half.8 Iran has looked at launching ballistic missiles from a ship. The ballistic missile threat, moreover, can appear as an upper atmosphere nuclear burst which would create an enormous electromagnetic pulse that would shut down U.S. satellite communications.

The potential for this type of attack on U.S. satellites, using an electromagnetic pulse, was warned about in a recent study by a panel chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defense.9 Rumsfeld also chaired a congressionally appointed commission on assessing the ballistic missile threat to the United States that released its warning in July 1998, noting how the United States could expect little or no warning of a ballistic missile attack.

The ballistic missile threat faced by the United States can appear unexpectedly from any quarter.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Ballistic Missile Threat: Defense and Technology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.