N is for net-centric and the Air Force’s latest move to get ahead in the ballistic missile defense game depends on it. The Net Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCADE) is a modified AMRAAM air-to-air missile primed to chase and hit enemy ballistic missiles. Fighters such as the F-15, F-16, F-22 and future F-35 could launch NCADE to intercept ballistic missiles shortly after launch and as they reach or exit the upper atmosphere.
Ballistic missiles saturating bases and airfields are a big nightmare for those planning future defense policy. The Iraqis launched short-range ballistic and cruise missiles against the Coalition in 2003, but numbers were small.
Slinging a modified missile off a fighter flying supersonic extends the missile range by a factor of 6 over a ground-based system, the Air Force says. Imagine the impact of a few 24-hour patrols holding fast, accurate anti-missile weapons to the throat of a rogue state.
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