"Security Implications of Hypersonics" – Report from the MSC Luncheon Discussion at the 2018 Stockholm Security Conference

Will hypersonic weapons disrupt the global security architecture in a similar way as nuclear weapons? On September 20, the MSC – in partnership with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) – hosted a luncheon discussion as part of this year's Stockholm Security Conference to discuss the security challenges of hypersonic weapons.

A view of the MSC Luncheon Discussion at the Stockholm Security Conference (Photo: SIPRI / Henriksson)

During the Stockholm Security Conference with the overarching topic of emerging technologies, the MSC addressed the rising issue of hypersonic missiles. The key questions raised and discussed by the panelists and the audience in Stockholm concerned the impact that the development of hypersonic weapons will have on the global security architecture, and what arms control arrangements would be necessary to restrict the proliferation of hypersonic technology?

The discussion session produced a consensus that the emergence of this particular technology creates new challenges to arms control and global security. The unprecedented speed – with only six minutes from launch to target – and high maneuverability could soon render existing missile defence systems largely ineffective. This would radically shift the balance between offensive and defensive capabilities, explained the experts, and thus our contemporary understanding of warfare. Estimates show that hypersonic technology will become militarily significant in less than a decade, thus driving a dangerous arms-race dynamic and pressing proliferation challenge. The United States, China and Russia, being the three nations leading the pursuit of hypersonic weapons, need to come to an agreement, stated participants – the first and most important step toward non-proliferation of these weapons.

The Luncheon was part of the MSC Cyber Security and Technology Series.

23 September 2018, by MSC