The CSS Blog Network

Hypersonic Weapons: Tactical Uses and Strategic Goals

Image courtesy of DVIDS

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 12 November 2019.

Hypersonic flight is not new. The V-2 rocket and the vast majority of the ballistic missiles that it inspired achieved hypersonic speeds (i.e., speeds faster than the speed of sound or Mach 5+) as they fell from the sky, as did crewed aircraft like the rocket-powered X-15. Rather than speed, today’s renewed attention to hypersonic weapons owes to developments that enable controlled flight. These new systems have two sub-varieties: hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles. Glide vehicles are the cousins of ballistic warheads: they are lofted on high velocity boosters, separate, then use momentum and control surfaces to skip and glide through the upper atmosphere before crashing onto their targets. The cruise missiles use an advanced propulsion system (a SCRAMJET) for powered flight. While the descriptions are straightforward, the engineering needed to accomplish the guidance and maneuvering (not to mention survivability) of these weapons is far from clear.

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Prior focus: CSS Graphics

Russia-Ukraine Relations

This graphic outlines the findings of a survey of Ukrainian and Russian public opinion on the conflict in the Donbas. For more, read the new issue of the Russian Analytical Digest ‘Russia-Ukraine‘.

A Possible Step Toward Peace in Eastern Ukraine

Image courtesy of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the International Crisis Group on 9 October 2019.

Kyiv has accepted the Steinmeier formula, a mechanism for jump-starting implementation of the peace deal for parts of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. This decision is welcome, but the Ukrainian government should step carefully to boost chances of a settlement.

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The Militarization of US Foreign Policy: Engagement with Europe Increasingly about Defense

Image courtesy of Jason Robertson/DVIDS

This article was originally published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) in November 2019.

 The US Department of Defense is playing a predominant role in US foreign policy due to expanded mandates, large budgets and the disparagement of diplomacy by the Trump Administration. Defense relations may be the steadier foundation for transatlantic cooperation.

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The Iterative Relationship between Technology and International Security

Image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on 17 October 2019.

Scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations are often subject to public discussion about their capacity to affect international security, either by their military exploitation or their uptake and re-appropriation through non-state actors and terrorists. While accompanying proliferation and militarisation concerns are not new, the challenge of governing emerging technologies is as much about their often-unknown technical affordances as the way in which they capture the imagination of innovators, policy-makers, and public communities.

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