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Hypersonic Boost-glide Systems and Hypersonic Cruise Missiles: Challenges for the Missile Technology Control Regime

Cover HGVs and HCM Challenges for the MTCR
Kolja Brockmann and Dmitry Stefanovich
Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
April, 2022

An increasing number of states are pursuing hypersonic missile development programmes, including for hypersonic boost-glide systems and hypersonic cruise missiles. Hypersonic missiles combine hypersonic speed and manoeuvrability, which can result in target ambiguity, render missile defences ineffective and reduce warning times. Some hypersonic missiles are developed as delivery systems both for nuclear and conventional payloads. The combination of these capabilities may have escalatory or destabilizing effects.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is the main instrument through which states seek to harmonize export control policies to govern the transfer of missile technology. It is key to ensure that the MTCR’s guidelines and control list adequately cover hypersonic missiles and related goods and technologies. This paper seeks to improve the understanding of hypersonic missiles, increase awareness among policymakers and export control officials, and inform the ongoing technical and policy discussions within the MTCR to strengthen efforts to limit the proliferation of hypersonic missiles.


1. Introduction

2. Hypersonic boost-glide systems and hypersonic cruise missiles 

3. Conventional–nuclear entanglement and MTCR controls on dual-capable delivery systems           

4. Applying MTCR export controls to hypersonic boost-glide systems and hypersonic cruise missiles

5. Recommendations


Kolja Brockmann is a Senior Researcher in the SIPRI Dual-Use and Arms Trade Control programme.
Dmitry Stefanovich

is a Research Fellow at the Center for International Security at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS) and an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council and the Valdai Club. He is an honours graduate of the Institute of International Relations at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (NRNU MEPhI). His research interests include strategic weapons, long-range precision weapons, hypersonic weapons, space weaponization and disruptive technologies, and their impact on international security and strategic stability, arms control and regional security.