The CSS Blog Network

Hypersonic Missiles and Global Security

Indian-Russian “BrahMos”-type missiles. Image: Mubeenk02/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by The Diplomat on 13 November, 2015.

Between 2014 and June 2015, China conducted four major tests of its hypersonic missiles (with a fifth test in August). The fourth test of Wu-14, its ultra high-speed nuclear delivery vehicle, demonstrated a capacity for “extreme maneuvers.” It was assessed as travelling at a speed of Mach 10 (flying at 10 times the speed of sound or approximately 7,680 miles per hour). To understand this in comparative terms, a missile flying at subsonic speed can reach a maximum of 500-600 miles per hour.

To qualify as “hypersonic,” a missile would have to move at least five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), as well as be able to evade counter-fire and strike with great precision. To date, no country has achieved this performance but several nations are working on it. » More

Can India Make it Without Manufacturing?

Electric fan factory in India. Image: Jorge Royan/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the East Asia Forum on 26 October, 2015.

There’s one school of thought in Indian academic and policy circles that India represents a completely new model of development on the way to prosperity. India, it’s claimed, will be a services-led growth model, built on the spectacular international success of its IT hub in Bangalore, and its supply of English-literate back office services to the world.

This way of thinking eschews the experiences of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and indeed China in East Asia that saw prosperity built on investment in competitive manufacturing and skills, and eventually a world-class manufacturing base. No need to try to emulate the Japanese or South Korean industrial powerhouses or Global Factory China in this model: skip all that and go straight to the top of the ladder. » More

Five New Rules for Defense Innovation

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at Stanford University. Image: Rosa Jiménez Cano/Flickr

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 21 September, 2015.

“Silicon Valley folks? Their main focus is on speed to market.” A senior executive at Raytheon recently uttered this quote in response to the innovation push launched by former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and expanded by his successor, Ash Carter. The remark illustrates a frustration shared across the traditional defense industrial base over a series of “innovation initiatives” being rolled out by the Department of Defense (DOD). These initiatives have been spurred by a growing sense that the Pentagon’s historic technological advantage is slipping as a result of numerous shortcomings: DOD’s flagging research and development (R&D) spending, an abysmal technology transition rate, and questionable returns on industry Independent Research & Development (IRAD). There is no doubt that something must be done to ensure U.S. defense-related innovation remains world-leading. Yet despite DOD’s best efforts, it is far from clear that the department has sufficiently considered how it can further leverage the already existing defense industrial base to support this endeavor. Certainly, “non-traditional” companies should be a larger player in the defense innovation marketplace. But as the previously mentioned Raytheon executive noted, “When you’re making technology in the defense market, you also have to address other aspects, including mission assurance, acquisition compliance — these things are important … there’s an overhead to that.” » More

Why the Next Fighter Will Be Manned, and the One after That

An F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Image: skeeze/Pixabay

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 5 August, 2015.

Sometimes a technology is so awe-inspiring that the imagination runs away with it — often far, far away from reality. Robots are like that. A lot of big and ultimately unfulfilled promises were made in robotics early on, based on preliminary successes.

– Daniel H. Wilson

The F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly.

– Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy » More

Clausewitz in Orbit: Spacepower Theory and Strategic Education

Artistic depiction of an anti-satellite weapon of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Defence-In-Depth on June 10, 2015.

The politics of war and peace in space is an overlooked field. Space is a quiet and lonely place in war studies – despite space systems performing critical infrastructure roles in war, peace, politics, economics, and nuclear stability. In the mid-1990s John Sheldon and Colin Gray bemoaned the fact that there is no ‘Mahan for space.’ Neither writer apparently considered the possibility that they had answered their own plea, or in other words, that there is a Mahan for space: it’s Alfred Thayer Mahan. The 19th century navalist is one of a constellation of strategic theorists (such as Clausewitz, Castex, Corbett, to name the most prominent) whose work I am applying to create a spacepower theory intended to inform the diverse strategic problems conflict in this new medium might pose. » More

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