US Cyber attacks could shut down enemy missiles before launch

Bill Gertz:
The Pentagon is developing cyber and other electronic weapons to attack enemy missile systems prior to launch as part of a new high-technology defense initiative, senior Pentagon officials disclosed to Congress on Wednesday.

The use of non-kinetic attacks against missile system computers, their sensors, and other networks, along with other high-technology means to knock out missiles on the ground, is called “left-of-launch” defense, a reference to the location on a timeline of the process of shooting down missiles.

Few details were provided on the plans for non-kinetic missile defenses that Brian McKeon, the principal defense undersecretary for policy, said were “underway” as a result of a new security environment that includes plans to use large-salvo missile attacks and other means to defeat current missile defense.

Left-of-launch missile defense was raised in a 2014 memorandum from then-Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert and then-Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno to the secretary of defense warning that missile defense spending was “unsustainable” because of sharp defense cuts. They called for the more cost-effective “left-of-launch” strategy.

Defense officials familiar with the research said the new, non-kinetic missile defenses include the planned use of cyber attacks and other electronic warfare means, such as electromagnetic pulse attacks, against foreign command and control systems.
If they can make this work it would be the equivalent of a pre-launch phase strike meaning the missiles could not have time to even launch decoys to spoof the existing missile defense system.   The army also needs to find a way to use the new weapons systems the navy has developed such as lasers and rail guns.


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