Can Nuclear Weapons be intercepted? That is the question most people have on their minds. But is it even physically possible? Professor James Wells of the University of Michigan believes that it can be done, but it will be extremely difficult and challenging. The key is to develop the necessary technology to intercept nuclear missiles. This article will take a look at some of the key components that can make intercepting missiles a viable option.
The midcourse period of a nuclear weapon’s flight is much longer than the boost phase, which means interceptors have a longer range than the terminal stage. Early interceptors carried nuclear weapons to destroy incoming warheads. Later interceptor prototypes carried a non-explosive “kill vehicle” which was supposed to guide itself into the incoming warhead during the midcourse phase.
H-bombs are a more sophisticated form of nuclear weapons that rely on the fission reaction between two atomic nuclei. Using depleted uranium, they produce energy that can trigger further fission reactions. Nations that have hydrogen bombs include the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China. But they are not the only weapons with the potential to be intercepted. The missiles used to deliver nuclear bombs are known as ballistic missiles, and the Soviet Union developed anti-ballistic missiles in the 1960s.
The question of whether nuclear weapons can be intercepted remains a controversial one. New interception technology has made it possible to cut the link between the offense and defense. This new technology aims to remove the mutual vulnerability that has been so important to maintain the stability of the world. If a nuclear war were to occur, neither nation would want to risk a nuclear exchange. In such a scenario, the question of whether or not nuclear weapons can be intercepted is not only important but the answer to the question remains uncertain for the time being.
Currently, the GMD system is limited in its ability to intercept any nuclear missile anywhere in the world. While it has 44 interceptors, the current MDR calls for twenty more interceptors. But this number would not be enough to counter entire nuclear fleets. And the interceptors’ effectiveness is often questionable. The fact that GMD is so expensive and ineffective does not guarantee success in combating nuclear weapons.
However, this system is still far from being effective. As of 2014, the GMD interceptors have been deployed before successful intercept tests. The development of the system is not a cheap process, so problems are often identified early. But the GMD system has many flaws and has to be modified before a successful intercept test. It requires costly retrofits to fix problems, and its hardware and software can vary from interceptor to interceptor. The result is a high failure rate, which is not acceptable.
The only reliable safeguard against intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads is the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GBMD). But current testing data shows that interceptors do not work better than 50% of the time. Even if they do, it won’t make a fundamental change in the odds. So it is important to continue to develop advanced technologies to keep the United States safe from nuclear attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently put his nuclear forces on “high alert” days after the invasion of Ukraine. While the move was deemed a provocative political gesture by the United States, it is more of an operational shift than a strategic one. While Russia hasn’t fired a nuclear missile since February, continued denial by Ukraine could lead to the use of brute force. So, can nuclear weapons be intercepted?