Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation
RAND researchers present an overview of their key findings on hypersonic missiles — a new class of military threat capable of maneuvering and flying faster than 5,000 kilometers per hour. Richard Speier, George Nacouzi, Rich Moore, and 2015–2016 Stanton Nuclear Fellow Carrie Lee describe how speed and maneuverability enable such missiles to penetrate most missile defenses, and further compress the timelines for a response by a nation under attack. This research, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for its project Disruptive Technologies and the Future of Deterrence, suggests that there is probably less than a decade available to substantially hinder the potential proliferation of hypersonic missiles and associated technologies.
Hypersonic missiles are a new class of threat that could penetrate most missile defenses and compress the timelines for a nation under attack to respond. The United States, Russia, and China should agree not to export hypersonic missile systems or components to other nations.
Russia and China appear to be developing hypersonic weapons. But the United States should make decisions about whether to develop its own hypersonic weapons in a vacuum.