Hitting a bullet with a bullet is an astounding feat. But now that US missile defenses can do it routinely, we’re realizing it’s not enough.
As technology spreads around the world, more countries are getting larger numbers of more capable missiles. A cash-strapped America can’t afford to shoot down each incoming threat with a specialized, expensive interceptor like the Patriot. That’s forcing the US military both to find new ways to use existing systems and to look beyond traditional interceptors to technologies like lasers, cyber attack, and jamming.
“We will never have enough interceptors,” said Lt. Gen. David Mann, who heads Army Space and Missile Defense Command. (It’s the Army that handles most missile defense, although the role of the Navy’s Aegis radar and Standard Missile is growing). “[So] we need to add a level of sophistication to the way we look at the threat,” Mann told an Association of the US Army conference here. “It has to be more than just a metal-on-metal application.”
What the Army needs from industry and researchers, the assembled officers and experts made clear, is not so much new technology as new ideas.