December 8, 2007:
Department of Defense has developed seekers for AIM-9X (Sidewinder) and AIM-120
(AMRAAM) air-to-air missiles that enable ballistic missiles to be shot down.
This happens when the missiles are in their "boost" (moving skyward) phase.
Moreover, the seekers were transmitting their images via a NCADE (Net-Centric
Airborne Defense Element) communications system. NCADE links aircraft and UAVs,
equipped with air-to-air missiles, into a network of sensors, looking for
ballistic missile launch. Second count, so the system would have to promptly
alert any aircraft near enough to launch a missile, and get that missile moving
in the direction of the rapidly climbing ballistic missile.
Equipping aircraft with NCADE
missiles would provide another layer of anti-missile protection. It will be
several years before NCADE completes testing, then a decision must be made as
to whether it's worthwhile putting into service. In several recent wars, the
U.S. has had air superiority, but the enemy still had some hidden ballistic
missiles that could be fired. This would be the case with Iran and North Korea.
The AIM-9X has a max range of
about 18 kilometers, while the AIM-120 is about a hundred kilometers. The NCADE version of the AMRAAM is equipped
with a heat seeking guidance system from the Sidewinder, and a rocket booster
(making it a two stage missile) so that it can hit ballistic missiles that have
moved to a high altitude.