For years, North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile this week, Pentagon experts and intelligence responded: “Not only did the North progress rapidly, espionic satellite coverage was so marked that the United States might not see a missile in Preparation for launch.
This caused a silent but urgent search for ways to improve America’s early warning capability – and the ability to strike missiles while on the home bar.
The most interesting solutions come from Silicon Valley, where the Obama administration has begun investing in small, economical civilian satellites developed to count cars in the destination parking lot and control crop growth.
Some in the Pentagon used to rely on highly classified satellites and multibillions of dollars, which take years to develop, weathered the movement.
But as North Korea’s missile program progressed, US officials have set an ambitious schedule for the first small satellites to increase later this year or early next year.
It launched in clusters, some remain in orbit for only one or two years, satellites would provide the necessary cover for a new military emergency plan called “kill chain.”
This is the first step in a new strategy for using satellite imagery to identify North Korean launch sites, nuclear facilities and manufacturing capabilities and to preemptively destroy if a conflict seems imminent.
Even a few extra minutes of warning could save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans – and millions of South Koreans and Japanese already living in reach of North missiles.
“Kim Jong-un is competing – literally running – to deploy a missile capability,” said Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial Agency, which coordinates the mapping satellite for the government, said in an interview days before the last Visit of the launch of North Korea. “His acceleration led us to accelerate.”
The schedule for in-orbit satellites, which defense officials have never publicly discussed, reflects the urgency of the problem.
North Korea’s launch of a missile Tuesday was launched from a new site, a mobile launcher at Pang Hyon Aircraft Factory. Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the missile “is not one we have seen before.”
This mobility is the problem that new satellites with wide coverage using radar sensors that operate at night and during storms are designed to meet. Less than a third of North Korea is under spy satellite coverage at some point.
US intelligence analysts spotted indications of an imminent start-up in the days before the missile, according to a spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the commander. William Marks.
But even after the launch, the Pentagon finds it bad that it seemed. Minutes after the 37-minute pass, the United States Pacific Command describes the missile as a mid-range model, often seen.
Hours later, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson gave a very different conclusion: that the North had tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of reaching Alaska.
The commercial thrust radar is one of many ways the administration seeks to counter the threat of North Korea. President Trump inherited a secret effort to sabotage Northern missile launches. However, their success has been uneven at best, especially at the end.