Middle East adversaries could threaten U.S. military bases with advanced ballistic missiles, a think tank said.
The Lexington Institute asserted that Middle East allies of China and Russia were receiving missile technology that threaten U.S. bases in the region. The institute, regarded as being close to the Defense Department, said Iran and Syria were developing ballistic missiles that could target U.S. and Western facilities.
“Countries such as Iran and Syria are deploying long-range ballistic missiles and building IADS [integrated air defense systems], often with technology from Russia and even China,” Lexington said.
In a report titled “Hypersonic Weapons May Be A Key Part of the Answer to Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges,” Lexington said the next challenge to Washington would be the use of missiles and rockets to attack U.S. forward bases and naval expeditionary forces. Lexington said China and Russia were helping their allies, including those in the Middle East, enhance their anti-access/area denial, known as A2/AD, platforms.
Iran and Syria were identified as maintaining the largest ballistic missile arsenals in the Middle East. The two Middle East states have been operating Scud-origin missile that range from 700 to 2,500 kilometers.
“It is vitally important that the U.S. military develop the capabilities to deter and, if necessary, defeat A2/AD threats,” the report, dated Nov. 26, said. “While the United States and China are unlikely to come to blows, Beijing could be emboldened if it were able to deploy a full-blown A2/AD capability that the United States could not counter.”
Lexington said the U.S. Defense Department was struggling to find a solution to the emerging air defense threat. The institute urged the Pentagon to develop hypersonic weapons, described as extremely high speed weapons that could destroy ballistic missile launch sites. The U.S. Air Force plans to develop hypersonic strike weapons by 2020 and a hypersonic aircraft for 2030.
“Hypersonic weapons combined with stealthy platforms and advanced electronic warfare and cyber capabilities would be used to defeat hostile IADS, ‘kicking in the door’ for slower and less stealthy systems to conduct follow-on attacks,” Lexington said.