Gaps in NATO’s hypersonic defense

The number of hypersonic missiles is growing: this corresponds to a new great race for power for effective defenses against the revolutionary weapon.

The Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) -based system is still the basis of its missile defense systems, with however a real vulnerability to fast-maneuvering hypersonic.

The SM-6, deployed in 2013, is the first of the “Standard” missile family that includes three anti-aircraft, anti-surface and maritime terminal defense capabilities that allow it to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles.

The SM-6 Block I is the initial version deployed with the United States Navy’s Aegis-equipped ships. An updated version of it that can counter ballistic targets and cruise missiles.
In the case of maneuvering ballistic missiles, however, the SM-6 has reduced effectiveness.

Indeed, since ballistic missiles fly at hypersonic speeds during their reentry phase, they travel in a predictable ballistic arc, which makes it possible to calculate an interception point midway. However, hitting a hypersonic maneuvering target is much more difficult.

In addition to technical and cost problems, various constraints also arise from a political point of view and must be addressed. Missile defense systems are not deployable in US allied countries and this can leave blind spots that open up wider vulnerabilities.

Also, not all allied countries like to deploy such systems on their territory without having control over them. One example was the 2017 protests in South Korea over the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system.

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