Tag Archives: Hypersonic Missile

Spaceplanes, Hypersonic Platforms and the Missile Technology Control Regime

Author: Venkatasubbiah Siddhartha

To read the complete report click here

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


Hypersonic missiles: Where the technology leads

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July 29, 2015

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

Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsParticipants in this roundtable display consensus on one point: that the world already possesses enough destructive capacity and there’s no need to add more. But whereas Mark Gubrud advocates a ban on hypersonic missile testing, Tong Zhao and I feel that—for better or worse—hypersonic technology is here to stay.

Technology development generally takes the form of an S-curve. Improvements come slowly in the early stages of development. Later, breakthroughs allow rapid improvement. Finally, the technology’s physical limits are reached, only modest improvements are possible, and the curve levels off. Ballistic missiles have reached the last stage. Limits on their performance can be overcome only through the development of new technology—such as hypersonic missiles.

Hypersonics provide, with their speed and promptness of delivery, a means to gain and preserve the military high ground. It is inconceivable that nations already invested in gaining that high ground would agree to a ban on hypersonic testing.

To read the complete article click here

Hypersonics are here to stay

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July 9, 2015

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

Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsMy roundtable colleague Mark Gubrud argues for a ban on hypersonic missile testing—an unlikely proposition when the pace of hypersonic missile development is only accelerating.

On June 7, China carried out a fourth test of its hypersonic glide vehicle, the WU-14. The vehicle is said to have traveled at Mach 10; the test reportedly involved “extreme maneuvers.” China has now carried out four hypersonic tests in a span of 18 months—indicating that Beijing accords great urgency and priority to the development of hypersonic technology. Russia is developing its own hypersonic glide vehicle, the Yu-71. The three tests conducted since September 2013 (including a test in February of this year) appear to have been unsuccessful, but the Russians possess the technological wherewithal to field a successful hypersonic glide vehicle eventually. The US military suffered a setback last August in a test of its Advanced Hypersonic Weapon. But the United States has a long history in hypersonic technology development, and last summer’s setback will not dampen Washington’s plans.

To read the complete article click here

New technology, familiar risks

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.

To read the complete article click here

Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
Sign up for Updates

Enter your email below



We will not share your email