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US MDA prepares hypersonic and ballistic missile defence

12th November 2021 - 14:35 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The U.S. Navy conducted a static fire test in October 2021 of the newly developed common hypersonic missile. (Photo: US Navy)

Northrop Grumman has completed work for the US MDA on the development of satellites intended to track and target enemy missiles.

Northrop Grumman has completed the critical design review of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) prototype for the US Missile Defense Agency.

The review establishes the company’s technical approach for precise timely sensor coverage to defeat ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

HBTSS satellites will provide continuous tracking and handoff to enable the targeting of enemy missiles.

They are an essential component of the Overhead Persistent Infrared multi-layered constellation of satellites, which can sense heat signatures to detect and track missiles from their earliest stages of launch.

The threat of hypersonic missiles has been a hot topic recently, following a Chinese missile test in August earlier this year.

A hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) serves the same purpose as an intercontinental ballistic missile, but never leaves the atmosphere.

Instead, the HGV glides in the atmosphere and is able to perform skip glide manoeuvres which confuse missile defences, making it difficult to intercept and anticipate the target.

The US is now struggling to catch up in regards to hypersonic missile technology as China has now demonstrated their capability and Russia did so in 2019.

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