6 December 2016
The US military is working on a new Multi-Object Kill Vehicle, or MOKV, which would be able to zero in on an object and destroy it.
The technology is being developed as part of a “robust missile defence system” in response to countries including China, Russia and Iran developing long-range missiles with multiple warheads, known as MIRVs (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle) or decoys.
“Both China and Russia possess the MIRV capability for their ballistic missiles,” wrote independent consultant Debalina Ghoshal.
“In 2014, reports confirmed that Iran too had developed Multiple Re-entry Vehicles (MRVs) for their ballistic missiles.
“Cold War literature suggests that MIRVs are first strike weapons and could be strategically destabilising.
“The United States realises these threats and is working towards a robust missile defense system.”
Last year, the US Missile Defense Agency awarded contracts to Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing to begin designing the MOKV, which could destroy several objects with a single launch.
“Ten years ago, we had a single kill vehicle on a single interceptor. Kill vehicles today are the size of a toaster. This MOKV program is the latest iteration,” John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, told Seeker.
Raytheon’s plan, which is scheduled for a concept review this month, is to load multiple MOKVs onto a single missile for launch.
Each MOKV would be fitted with sensors, a steering and propulsion system and communications equipment allowing them to zero in on an individual target and hit it, destroying the object by sheer kinetic forces.
The impacts would take place beyond Earth’s atmosphere, but the
resulting cloud of debris would go back into the atmosphere and burn
up, Pike said.