Spaceplanes, Hypersonic Platforms and the Missile Technology Control Regime

Author: Venkatasubbiah Siddhartha

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To cite: Venkatasubbiah Siddhartha. Spaceplanes, Hypersonic Platforms and the Missile Technology Control Regime, ISSSP Report No. 08-2017. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2017, available at http://isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/ISSSP-Report.pdf

In Space launch systems, there is — besides the well-known manned Space Shuttle of the United States – the ongoing development in the US, as also in India, of reusable unmanned space vehicles.  The orbital-delivery components of these vehicles are designed to re-enter the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, and to survive that re-entry, intact, for refurbishment and re-use. The technologies that enable such survival can be utilised for the development of hypersonic boost-glide platforms for ordnance-delivery. Such enabling technologies are characterised as being ‘dual-usable’.

Besides the United States, Russia and China, other nations possessing the applicable enabling technologies are also experimenting with, or evaluating, hypersonic boost-glide platforms for precision-delivery of military ordnance – conventional or potentially nuclear. 

India and other co-members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), adopt a common approach to controlling the export from their territories of specified classes of missiles, and of missile-usable systems and technologies, so as to slow or stymie the development of missiles and Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) by those countries which have to import critical technologies for the development of their own missiles or UAVs.  

India shares missile non-proliferation objectives and responsibilities with other members of the MTCR. It is in India’s foreign policy and geo-strategic interests to propose extension of MTCR to control over international trade in re-usable Space launch systems and their enabling dual-usable technologies.  Specifically, India may propose to co-members inclusion of new entries in the MTCR Annex as detailed in the concluding section.


About the Authors

Venkatasubbiah Siddhartha is Adjunct Faculty, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru. For correspondence please contact E-mail: scatopsa@gmail.com


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