Missile Defense: Targeting a Technological Solution

Despite UN resolutions and international opposition, North Korea test-launched four intermediate range ballistic missiles on Monday that reached within 200 miles of Japan. The test demonstrates not only Pyongyang’s disregard for more sanctions, but also its progress in missile technology. Besides North Korea, Russia, China, and Iran have also devoted resources to acquiring new missiles with improved range, speed, and accuracy. This evolving threat demands an equally, if not more advanced, technical solution. However, an effective one has been elusive.

A key challenge for developing missile defense systems lies in the speed and unpredictability of an offensive missile. The defender must react to the threat without knowing precisely where the launch will come from or where it will go. Therefore, any defense inevitably trades response time for information – the longer the defender waits, the more information there is on where the missile is going, but there is less time to react.

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+ Member.


Related Articles

How Safe Would We Be Without Section 702?

SUBSCRIBER+EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW — A provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that has generated controversy around fears of the potential for abuse has proven to be crucial […] More