New technology, familiar risks

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Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, June 25, 2015

Rajaram Nagappa, Head-ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsHypersonic missiles, if successfully developed, will cover long distances in a short time. Some observers argue that these missiles, in the hands of a nation that intended to overwhelm an adversary’s early warning and missile defense systems, would pose a serious threat to global security and therefore should be banned. This is a contestable idea. The technology surrounding hypersonic missiles is still very much under development—but even if it is perfected, it will not add much to the security threats already posed by deployed weapons systems such as ballistic missiles.

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One Comment

  • It looks like the resurgence of a new “cold war.” It has also the makings a fake ‘star war.’ All of us remember the time when there was a competitive race for building rockets, MIRVs, etc. to preempt any attack by the ‘enemy.’ The infamous strategist Henry Kissinger propagated theories to get ready for ‘second strike’ that should neutralize the rival’s capability. All these were proved to be unnecessary at best and counter productive at worst. The arms industry could well have orchestrated these programs. Now when the economy is in recession and efforts of the Fed have been of not much avail and public investment in infrastructure is meeting “rightist” resistance, the arms lobby can resort t the older game. They have Ukraine and the ISS to lend support. This is ot a conspiracy theory advanced by Marxists. But given the record of drones and the indiscriminate killing of civilians, what results hthese hypersonic missiles can achieve? How will they target and whom? How they ensure that there is no collateral damage? These are unanswered questins even if one agrees that the technology for these missile is at a nascent stage. The fear is that it can encourage a paranoid approach resembling the cold war days.

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