Summary

Ballistic missiles are already in widespread use and will continue to increase in number and variety. The availability of weapons of mass destruction for use on ballistic missiles vastly increases the significance of this threat.

Despite an ongoing reduction in the size of the Russian strategic missile force, Russia will continue to present the largest ballistic missile threat to the United States. The development of new ballistic missile systems such as the road-mobile SS-27 ICBM and the Bulava-30 SLBM is a high priority for Russia. Russia is also offering the advanced new Iskander-E SRBM for export.

China is capable of producing technologically advanced ballistic missiles and has sold ballistic missile technology to other countries. China can already target the United States with a relatively small force of liquid-propellant ICBMs. The DF-31, China’s new solid-propellant, road-mobile ICBM, was flight-tested for the first time in 1999, and a longer range road-mobile ICBM and a new SLBM are in development.

MUPSOW Cruise Missile

Photo credit: Kentron
Division of Denel (Pty) Ltd

SCUD Missile on Launcher

Photo credit: National Air Intelligence Center

KEPD-350 Cruise Missile

Photo credit: BOFORS-Celsius
Group and Daimler-Benz
Aerospace AG-LFK


North Korea is continuing the development of the Taepo Dong 2 ICBM. Like other North Korean ballistic missiles, the Taepo Dong 2 may be exported to other countries in the future. With continued foreign assistance, Iran also could have an ICBM capable of reaching the United States before 2015.

Proliferation of land-attack cruise missiles will expand in the next decade. At least nine countries will be involved in producing these weapons. The majority of new LACMs will be very accurate, conventionally armed, and available for export. The high accuracy of many LACMs will allow them to inflict serious damage on important targets, even when the missiles are armed only with conventional warheads. US defense systems could be severely stressed by low-flying stealthy cruise missiles that can simultaneously attack a target from several directions.

Ballistic and cruise missiles, with their relatively low operating costs, their high probability of penetrating existing defense systems, and their value as a symbol of national power, will continue to be the offensive weapons of choice for many nations. As such, they are threats that must be carefully considered in future military planning and operations.

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