First we have hypersonic missiles:
Hypersonic weapons incorporate the speed of a ballistic missile with the maneuvering capabilities of a cruise missile. Hypersonic weapons refer to weapons that travel faster than Mach 5 (~3,800mph) and have the capability to maneuver during the entire flight. As a pentagon report stated, “While the designed speed of the hypersonic missile is faster than that of sound, its advantage lies in its enhanced maneuverability and smooth flight path, which is much harder to track than that of traditional missiles.”
Hypersonic weapons are specifically designed for increased survivability against modern ballistic missile defense systems. These missiles are capable of delivering conventional or nuclear payloads at ultra-high velocities over long ranges.
“Unstoppable!” says the New York Times. The U.S., China and Russia, in a joint venture with India, are developing hypersonic weapons. So the brief era of effective missile defense may soon be over, at least for now.
Cyber warfare is almost old hat by comparison. The Associated Press says that President Trump ordered cyber attacks on Iran in place of actual bombings:
U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.
The AP story is based on information from officials who “spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the operation.” I think it is highly likely that they were, in fact, authorized to talk to reporters because the administration wants us to know that it has taken military, as well as economic, action against the mullahs.
The cyberattacks — a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions — disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said. Two of the officials said the attacks, which specifically targeted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps computer system, were provided as options after Iranian forces blew up two oil tankers earlier this month.
The action by U.S. Cyber Command was a demonstration of the U.S.’s increasingly mature cyber military capabilities and its more aggressive cyber strategy under the Trump administration. Over the last year U.S. officials have focused on persistently engaging with adversaries in cyberspace and undertaking more offensive operations.
That’s good. The AP, not wanting to give the Trump administration too much credit, emphasizes the threat of cyber warfare to the U.S., and notes that Iranian hackers have been trying to infiltrate American systems for some time:
“This is not a remote war (anymore),” said Sergio Caltagirone, vice president of threat intelligence at Dragos Inc. “This is one where Iranians could quote unquote bring the war home to the United States.”
Caltagirone said as nations increase their abilities to engage offensively in cyberspace, the ability of the United States to pick a fight internationally and have that fight stay out of the United States physically is increasingly reduced.
Did the U.S. pick a fight here? I thought Iran did that, by bombing tankers in international waters and shooting down an American drone. But for the AP, like many other American liberals, anything other than Obama-style supine acquiescence constitutes picking a fight.