Hypersonic missile: who is the target?
The first thing that is on everybody’s minds is President Medvedev’s statement regarding NATO. Why at this late date exactly, at this juncture?
In a rather alarming manner we’ve seen the recruitment, for the US missile system in Europe at large, through the mechanism of NATO, in the last couple of months where in addition to the countries where we know there are going to be US interceptor missiles stationed the extension of foreign based X-Band radar facility in Turkey but we’ve also seen the recruitment of nations like Spain, the Netherlands and others into what the While House and the Pentagon curiously refer to as the European Phased Adaptive Approach Missile System, one that is going to proceed in four phases, but the third and fourth phase, with the introduction of very advanced-stage, what are called Standard Missile-3 Land-Based Interceptors, that the understanding is that these can be employed not strictly for defensive purposes but to target all Russian strategic deterrent forces and capabilities rather in Europe.
Recently, the US and NATO conducted tests for their new hypersonic missile. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about that?
Earlier this month, the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). And it’s actually an interdepartmental weapon system, its part of what’s called Conventional Prompt Global Strike, or sometimes simply Prompt Global Strike. Last year, for example, the Obama administration asked for somewhere in the neighbourhood of the third of a billion dollars for this year to develop this capacity. It’s meant to deliver conventional weapons attacks, or conventional attacks on any site on the planet within no more than 60 minutes. And what happened earlier this month was that the US army tested the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), which traveled an estimated 7,400 km/h, which is over six times the speed of sound. In August, an unsuccessful test of AHW-related component was to have traveled at 27,000 km/h, which is known as over MACH 20 – that is 20 times the speed of sound. To be hypersonic one has to exceed MACH 5, or five times the speed of sound. What happened the day before President Medvedev’s statement about moving mobile ISKANDER missiles into the Kaliningrad District, but also potentially into Belarus and into the Southern Krasnodar Region, which would be closer and closer to US missiles in Romania and to the NATO radar facility in Turkey, the day before the Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov mentioned that Russia’s new air-defense systems are capable of intercepting any kind of missiles, including US interceptor missiles but also he explicitly mentioned hypersonic weapon.
He said that explicitly? Hypersonic?
Yes, he said it specifically in reference that had been conducted a couple of weeks earlier by the US.
You mentioned earlier this was a part of the Prompt Global Strike System? Is this a first-strike system?
I’ll read you a comment that was made a couple of years ago by the person who is now retired. It was Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, US military General Cartwright, who stated that the proclaimed intent of the Prompt Global Strike was to deliver a conventional missile or heavy bombers – you know, long-range bombers – anywhere in the face of the Earth within an hour. Marine General James Cartwright, who is now retired, stated: “At the high end, strikes could be delivered in 300 milliseconds,” which is a fraction of a second. There was a comment by another person, who is retired, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense, William Lynn, who stated roughly the same things but a year and a half ago. He said: “The next air warfare priority for the Pentagon is developing a next-generation, deep-penetrating strike capability that can overcome air defenses,” meaning again that this first-strike capability or part of a general first-strike capability that would permit the US to strike fast, deep and undetected presumably into the interior of countries that have advanced air defense systems. I can only think of three countries that would match that description – Iran, to a lesser extent, and Russia and China, to a greater.
How would this all tie in with the Cyber Warfare Center that’s been active recently in Estonia?
Yes, in 2008, NATO set up one of what they call, what NATO calls a Center of Excellence, a Cyber Defense Centre in the capital of Estonia, in reaction to alleged cyber attacks, real or alleged. So that we have three components being integrated, one of them being the so-called Global Missile Shield. But, first of all, there is no real assurance that the missiles, in fact pack a non-explosive warhead. They are supposed to be what kinetic or hit-to-kill missiles but at any time that the US chooses I suspect put a strategic warhead on one of these missiles and when they are deployed in Poland or Romania no one would be the wiser. We know that the momentous statement by President Medvedev on Wednesday cited the fact that Russia was not consulted about anything. In his own words, the US rather blithely announces after the fact or rather that the President or Defense Minister of Russia have to read in western newspapers US plans to deploy, under NATO auspices, 48 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Romania and Poland, 24 each, and, as he put it, it’s presented to us as an accomplished fact. With that lack of consultation, with that lack of openness, transparency, one could, with great justification, fear the ultimate purpose of US missiles in nations like Poland and Romania or ship-based versions of Standard Missile-3 that will be deployed in the Baltic Sea – and they may well find their way into the Black Sea.