Optimal Altitude for Antimissile Detonations

A Game Theory Analysis

by Joseph W. Kitchen

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A game-theoretic approach to determining the best strategy for both the attacker and the defender in a situation in which an ICBM plunges toward a target defended by one or more AICBM missiles. The problem treated is essentially that of determining the altitude at which the defender should detonate his AICBM warhead and at which the attacker should detonate his ICBM warhead. The problem depends on accurate determination of the damage done by an ICBM warhead detonated at a given altitude and on the probability of kill of the defense weapon — information that the combatants would normally conceal from each other.

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