Cris Sheridan: Host of FS Insider podcast at Financial Sense® Wealth Management
You did mention that there are ways to defend against them (hypersonic weapons). Biden said last night that they are nearly unstoppable. And there has been some different reporting on this. From your vantage point, I understand that directed energy is something that is highly linked to trying to take these things down. What are the mechanisms, the technology that's in place that we can use against these?
Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven
Well, that's a really important question. And there's long been a concern that there could be what's called a bolt out of the blue or an incoming salvo of high speed hypersonic weapons, such that it's essentially impossible to defend against.
Defending Against Hypersonic Weapons
So the President from what I understand is exactly right, there isn't a current method of intercept to knock these things out of the air. At the same time, there are several potential misconceptions about hypersonics.
One, that the US doesn't have them and two, you can't defend against them. Now, technically, in an operational sense, that's true, I will talk about how fast the US is developing them. But on the defense there's nothing today, but there are several very cutting edge interesting innovations which show what might be called potential promise for the future.
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One of them is as we discussed, boundary layer phenomenology, if there can be a way to disrupt the continuity of the airflow around the projectile throw off its temperature, make those molecules move around, instead of what experts call a laminar smooth air flow. If it becomes a turbulent airflow, well, the projectile itself can be thrown off course.
So that's a potential area of exploration, which the Air Force Research Lab is now looking at.
The second one is establishing that continuous radar track from one aperture to another. And here's where that's being looked at in terms of something at that speed, can it be tracked from one area of another when its flight is maneuvering, and it's moving at five times the speed of sound.
One of the ways this is being explored is through what's called MEO and LEO, Medium and low Earth orbit satellites. And what they do is they're smaller, they're lower to the ground, and instead of standard GEOs, which are higher altitude, they network to one another. So you have a radar aperture that goes from one sphere to another.
The idea is to network the information in real time so that the flight path can stay focused on or can stay in view so the actual flight can be tracked. Once something has a continuous track on it, there is at least in theory, the possibility of a bullet with a bullet or firing a high speed interceptor to take the thing out.
So it's in the early part of exploration, I would say based on doing homework on this and talking to some of the experts and scientists is by no means impossible, if not here today, obviously a huge priority.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University