The world is again exposed to the threat of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. If a nuclear missile were launched, there would only be a few minutes to react. Efficient time management is essential.
There are three phases in missile flight: boost, mid, and terminal. Normally, antimissiles are designed to act in the middle and terminal phases.
To defend against an attack is necessary:
- An efficient detection system, either from the ground or from satellites, capable of tracing the trajectory of the projectile according to its progress and thus anticipating the target. Sending images to the ground from the satellite takes a long time since communications to the ground are limited in throughput. If, on the other hand, the analysis of the trajectory is carried out on the satellite, the information can be selected and only the relevant data can be sent, saving valuable time.
- A system designed to intercept the missile from land or sea. Current systems for intercepting rely on their own detectors to impact as the kill vehicle approaches the warhead. One of the challenges is the autonomous navigation of the vehicle that must perform the rendez-vous autonomously, using cameras or other types of sensors and an AI algorithm. This system has to work accurately and in real time. Solutions like Klepsydra allow exact detection using the on-board computer without requiring a remote control that can analyze and managing the information.
- The current systems to destroying missiles in flight consists in either collide with it, hit to kill technique, or explode near it, called directed fragmentation.
Many missiles carry, for example, systems to cause confusion and hinder the detection of warheads, balloons, for example, of which only one carries the nuclear warhead, and the rest are decoys that mislead radars and carry batteries that regulate temperature, preventing their detection to the infrared sensors of the satellites. Another confusion system involves placing 100 or more bomblets instead of single warheads that are dropped in flight before interceptors can reach them. There are so many that it makes it impossible to intercept them all.
According to the NTI (Nuclear threat initiative), the chances of success to intercept a missile are 50%. A half-functioning defense system is not a defense system at all. Again, early detection is the only chance to disarm the missile before it deploys the warheads. Intercepting the missile in an earlier phase would be the solution. Only the use of more advanced technologies can make this possible.
To protect people, territories, and strategic facilities, it is essential to increase the chances of success. Anti-missile technology faces a unique and urgent problem, where cutting-edge hardware technologies must be complemented by “deeptech” software technologies.