Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), said he has the full support of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin to advance the development of space-based sensors that would defend the nation from hypersonic attacks by America’s adversaries.
The Pentagon believes funding will be in place next year to begin the constellation of missile-surveillance satellites amid new warnings of hypersonic weapons being tested and deployed Russia and China.
“The hypersonic threat is real, it is not imagination,” Lt. Gen. Greaves explained Tuesday at the Capitol Hill Club, emphasizing that defending against hypersonic missile attacks has become a top priority for the agency. But he forewarned the audience at the elitist, members-only club in Washington, D.C., that the Pentagon has a poor track record developing satellite constellations and should not deploy new systems unless a considerable amount of testing has been completed.
Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency, testifies at a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing. (Source: YouTube)
“We will prove the technology before we jump into a major program,” said Greaves.
“We will not repeat AEHF, SBIRS, GPS 3, OCX,” he said, referring to a list of Air Force satellite programs that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars and were years behind schedule.
“We all know what happens when we overpromise and we underdeliver,” Greaves said.
Greaves said the Pentagon wants to construct a sensor layer in space for missile defense, which right now, that is at the top of MDA’s priorities. While there is an urgency to deploy the system because of Russia’s hypersonic threat, he noted that defense agencies should not rush — to make sure all the bases are covered.
“To go fast sometimes you need to go slow early on,” he said. “This is the slow part, doing the requirements, the architecture studies, the modeling and simulation, so by the time you make your decision, industry is ready to ramp up.”
On the modern battlefield, the “vantage point of space” is critical to track hypersonic missiles that Russia and China are developing and currently testing, Greaves insisted. He said the Air Force already has the Space Based Infrared (SBIRS) satellites that detect missile launches from geostationary Earth orbit, which could be blended with a larger constellation of surveillance satellites to track “birth to death” of a hypersonic missile.
“That’s our vision for space sensors,” Greaves said. “Griffin agrees with me. We believe the hypersonic threat is real, it’s not imagination.” The United States in only a few years will have to be prepared, he said. “Space will be a big part of that.”
“Those who have access to the information know that … the capability to deploy hypersonic weapons has been done. It’s real, it’s coming, it’s a matter of time,” Greaves added.
If funding is approved, Greaves said the space-based sensor layer for missile defense could be deployed by 2025. The Pentagon has given the MDA extraordinary authorities to quickly advance defense systems to shield the nation from hypersonic attacks.
Greaves comments come after Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, recently warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is extremely vulnerable to future attack via hypersonic weapons.
Hyten said we are falling behind in the technological know-how to defend the homeland from the threat, as Russia and China advance their hypersonic technologies.
Russia will be capable of fielding a hypersonic glide vehicle, a weapon that no country can defend against, by 2020, which would mean the U.S. would have a gap in hypersonic defense systems for at least a few years.
Экипаж истребителя МиГ-31 Воздушно-космических сил #ВКС выполнил практический учебно-боевой пуск гиперзвуковой ракеты высокоточного авиационного ракетного комплекса #Кинжал в заданном районе. Пуск прошел штатно, гиперзвуковая ракета поразила заданную цель на полигоне pic.twitter.com/xLguUwGrQW— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) March 10, 2018
Hyten suggested the U.S. is powerless against hypersonic weapon threats and has to rely on deterrence against these so-called weapons.
What is that deterrence you might ask?
“So our response would be our deterrent force which would be the triad and the nuclear capabilities that we have to respond to such a threat,” Hyten warned.
In other words, if Russia or China launches a hypersonic missile attack on the U.S., the Pentagon will respond with nuclear war.
While Russia and China are many years ahead of the U.S. when it comes to hypersonic weapon development, the world has finally figured out the Achilles’ heel of the West.
From U.S. Air Force generals to Pentagon officials, they are mostly singing the same tune: the threat of hypersonic attacks from Russia and China are concerning.
The race to the bottom started many years ago for Washington, as their decades of failed wars in the Middle East has left a massive vulnerability gap in missile defense systems to protect the homeland against hypersonic threats, which could be exploited once Russia or China launches a production run of the weapons.
Moreover, not to frighten anyone, but Russia recently launched a “series production” of its latest hypersonic missile — indicating that inevitable is coming.
We must prepare for the possible endgame that Russia and China understand the defense gap that exists today, but in the next 5 to 8 years could be plugged via the unprecedented military spending unleashed by the Trump administration. As some say — strike while the iron is hot…