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The American ‘Left of Launch’ Defense Strategy

Dr. Roshan Writes: One of the reason for developing this can be that the Americans are contemplating developing ‘Full Spectrum Response’, which is going to include a full new approach to the BMD’ specially incorporating ‘Left of Launch’ and non-kinetic warfare as they will be more cost-effective.

The US is developing the ‘Left of Launch’ defense strategy to neutralize the enemy missile prior to being launched. They believe that the missile threat to US may increase in future as the number of users of missiles has increased. Here the talk is to increase the range of ‘Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD)’ capabilities. Hence significant work is being done in the domain of Cyber and electronic weapons. According to the article ‘Pentagon Developing Pre-Launch Cyber Attacks on Missiles’ in the Washington Free Beacon ‘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[1]’ would be the preferred medium of warfare in future. The essential feature of this strategy would be cyber- and electromagnetic pulse attack on the command and control systems. The main aim of this spectrum is to deter the adversary from attacking. The weaponisation of this electro-magnetic pulse is a dangerous precedence and will ultimately result in increasing the race to develop this niche technology by other countries, resulting in disturbing the status quo. The cyber-attacks are basically planned to disable the launch controls. To know the exact timing of an adversary’s attack is going to be a difficult proposition. The means to achieve this process will be a complicated one and the probability of error high.

One of the reason for developing this can be that the Americans are contemplating  developing ‘Full Spectrum Response’, which is going to include a full new approach to the BMD’ specially incorporating ‘Left of Launch’ and non-kinetic warfare as they will be more cost-effective. There have been reservations in the past regarding the expenditure required in developing the BMD technologies and so the work is on to develop such cost-effective technologies’. To develop a ‘Full Spectrum BMD Response’ will be a difficult challenge to address, as the US would require a wide intelligence network to have the information of the regional ballistic missile operation systems. Preventing the launch of warhead from its ‘Left of Launch’ to destruction of warhead en-route requires many technological demonstrations at various levels. How far the Americans have been able to develop, test, train and synergise the command and control structures is a question which both Russia and China would be assessing. The fact remains that the US talk of this technological demonstration has given China and Russia a new challenge to address. They had already severely criticised the BMD capabilities of the US in the past, but now they too will work to enhance the range of their attack by developing cyber and electromagnetic pulse attack. China and Russia already have advanced cyber-attack capabilities; hence the trilateral contest would make the future more dangerous and unpredictable. India needs to take into cognisance these developing threats and develop adequate deterrent capabilities especially in the domain of cyber-attacks. India needs to have the knowledge of all these new technologies and increase its R&D capabilities. The development of all these technologies will thus challenge the status quo.

End notes

[1] Gertz Bill, ‘Pentagon Developing Pre-Launch Cyber Attacks on Missiles’, The Washington Free Beacon, April 14, 2016 

 

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