Surveillance from space: the US is preparing to repulse hypersonic missiles

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MOSCOW, (BM) – The U.S. Space Development Agency will deploy an orbiting constellation of satellites in near space by 2022 that are expected to protect against the impact of hypersonic missiles, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Spacenews.com.

The idea of ​​placing a group of spacecraft in low Earth orbits in recent months has been very popular in the United States. Representatives of the Pentagon have long put forward the idea of ​​using the cosmic sensor layer in low Earth orbit.

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As previously reported by Gazeta.Ru, this group is also considered as a way of detecting and tracking hypersonic cruise missiles of a potential enemy, which may miss existing missile attack warning systems.

Last week, information appeared that the United States Space Development Agency was inviting the country’s defense industry to participate in a tender for the integration of a sensor for detecting and tracking hypersonic rockets in a spacecraft. The launch of such a satellite into low Earth orbit is expected by the end of 2021.

On June 5, 2020, the United States filed an application for a “phenomenology tracking experiment” to develop sensory algorithms for a future spacecraft network to detect hypersonic rockets in outer space. Offers are accepted until July 6th.

This experiment is an initial step in the plans of the U.S. Space Development Agency to deploy a large orbital constellation of low-orbit satellites in 2022 to detect and escort maneuvering hypersonic cruise missiles (GZKR), which, according to Pentagon forecasts, will be adopted by China and Russia in the near future.

According to the agency, the experiment on tracking the missile defense system is central to the development of sensors that can accurately distinguish signals from enemy missiles in the presence of organized interference and background noise.

“During the experiment, the conditions for observing from the satellite will be determined, then the algorithms will be optimized, the concepts of the corresponding operations will be worked out, and the wave ranges for extended detection and tracking of hypersonic missiles will be determined,” the request of June 5 said.

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The contractor in this project will be responsible for receiving the sensor in the form of the payload provided by the agency, for integrating the sensor with a satellite bus and installing the equipment on a launch vehicle.

Director of the US Space Development Agency Derek Tornir said the experiment on missile defense phenomenology will complement the other two satellites being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the defense under the Blackjack program.

“At least three LEO OPIR satellites will be launched,” said Tornir on June 4 during a webcast of a non-profit alliance defense missile defense forum.

The abbreviation OPIR can be roughly translated into Russian as “The space echelon of a missile attack warning system operating in continuous infrared mode”. In turn, LEO (low earth orbit) is a low Earth orbit.

“These experiments are designed to collect data“ so that we can really prove that we have chosen the right bands, and that we understand some phenomenology,” added Tornier.

In parallel with the experiment, the US space development agency will begin to request proposals from contractors to create the first eight satellites of a promising orbital group. The final request for proposals will arrive by June 15.

The director of the agency said that satellites in different orbits will be needed to detect and track hypersonic missiles flying at very high speeds.

Eight SDA satellites will provide a “wide field of view” from the corresponding orbit, but more detailed tracking data will be provided by another layer of satellites – the “middle field of view”, which is being developed by the Pentagon Missile Defense Agency, but so far this project is not funded.

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The Anti-Ballistic Defense Agency program, known as the Hypersonic Ballistic Tracking Space Sensors (HBTSS), will provide the so-called fire control data needed to launch and launch a missile defense in the vicinity of a target to defeat a potential enemy’s hypersonic missile.

By 2022 or 2023, the United States Space Development Agency plans to deploy an early version of the hypersonic missile warning network of 70 spacecraft with a wide and medium field of view.

“This will provide us with sufficient low Earth orbit (LEO) coverage so that we can have mostly regional stability,” said Tornier. “We need to determine which parts of the globe we want to focus on.”

“This will be the first time that we have enough satellites where we could actually wage war using these spacecraft. By 2025, we will have even more satellites, and we will be able to have full global coverage,” he said.

Congress has questions

Rep. Doug Lambourne (Republican from Colorado) of the Armed Forces Committee said U.S. Department of Defense programs are likely to be the topic of discussion for the details of the upcoming U.S. Defense Law of 2021. Debate in the subcommittee is scheduled for June 22, and the work of the committee in full – on July 1.

During a webcast for the nonprofit missile defense alliance forum, Lamborne asked panel representatives and the U.S. missile defense agency in a panel discussion to explain why the HBTSS space sensor layer is not funded from the Pentagon’s 2021 budget.

Derek Tornier said in response that there were “financial constraints” in the 2021 budget. According to him, if the US Congress decides to add funds to this program, this will help narrow the gap between the deployment of systems with a wide and medium field of vision.

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Some U.S. lawmakers are wondering why the U.S. space development agency is moving forward with its layer of tracking sensors if there is still no plan to deploy the HBTSS from the missile defense agency, which would be necessary to destroy enemy hypersonic missiles.

“You start a debate about what comes first – a chicken or an egg. We want to deploy both systems at the same time. And I would say that neither of them is more complicated than the other, and we need both systems,” said Derek Tournament.

He also denied allegations that the United States Space Development Agency and the missile defense agency are doing the same job. “We are creating a hybrid architecture together,” he said. The tournament noted that both agencies are managed by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Development Mike Griffin.

“To make sure that both agencies are closely interconnected, just this is enough – we have the same boss. It really helps in the work, ”added Derek Tornir.

“There is reason to believe that such an approach in the deployment of protection against hypersonic missiles seems to be the most correct from the point of view of timely decision-making and the corresponding ideology,” Konstantin Makienko, deputy director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, explained to Gazeta.ru.

According to the interlocutor of the publication, it is still unclear when the hypersonic cruise missiles will go into service with the Russian army and the PLA, when their number will reach the operational level, and in the United States, as they say, the system for protection against the state defense missile defense system is being deployed at the Bolshevik pace, and the deadlines for its completion marked extremely hard.

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