Feeds

Pentagon spends $442m on 'multiple kill' space interceptors

Smart swarms to eliminate ICBM 'threat clusters'

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The US Missile Defence Agency has assigned a further $442m for work on "multiple kill vehicles", designed to let a single American interceptor rocket destroy several orbital targets. The multi-kill capability is seen as vital if the nascent US missile shield is ever to become a credible defence.

Friday's contract award was to Raytheon, to work on their MKV-R concept. Rival US aerospace'n'weapons behemoth Lockheed are also developing a suborbital kill-swarm package, MKV-L. Both schemes would use an interceptor rocket stack to lob a package of "exo-atmospheric kill vehicles" up into the path of objects on suborbital or low-orbital trajectories. The kill vehicles would then separate out, each getting in the way of a different target and so destroying it as much by its own kinetic energy as by that of the interceptor.

Here's a nifty concept vid courtesy of the missile defence people and YouTube:

As the vid explains, Raytheon favour a distributed command system where any of the smartkill modules can be in charge. Lockheed prefer a more conventional setup with a "carrier" command vehicle using a telescope detector directing its accompanying swarm of space kamikaze droids. The idea is that if one plan doesn't work, the other still might.

The objects destroyed would normally be warheads, decoys and so forth - a "threat cluster" - launched by the ICBMs of sinister enemy powers. However, as was shown this summer, a working exo-atmospheric kill vehicle can also quite easily knock out a satellite in low orbit.

The idea of the MKVs is to deal with one of the great weaknesses of the current US missile-defence arsenal, which deploys only single kill vehicles. An ICBM can launch multiple warheads and multiple decoys, meaning that the US might need scores of interceptor rocket stacks to deal with a single enemy missile launch. That's a game not even America can afford to play. But working MKVs could ease the numbers somewhat, letting the defence forces cope with a small enemy missile fleet - if not a major one like that of Russia, able to fill the skies with "threat clusters" tens of thousands strong.

However, the MKV is far from reality yet; and while the Standard naval interceptor seems to work quite well, the heavier and higher-flying landbased mid-course jobs have a shadier reputation. There are many in America who doubt the value of the entire missile defence concept.

With a new Democratic president soon to enter the White House, more Democrats in Washington and a financial crisis gathering steam, the missile shield may find its cash flow a bit tighter quite soon. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.