Detecting and tracking hypersonic glide vehicles: A cybersecurity-engineering analysis of academic literature




Hypersonic glide vehicle, Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, National Defence Space Architecture, satellite constellation, small target detection, target tracking


Hypersonic vehicles are vehicles travelling faster than Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). Hypersonic technologies have existed since the end of the 1950s, but recent developments of defence applications have led to their resurgence. Hypersonic weapons can be hypersonic (powered) cruise missiles or hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). The near-space trajectories of HGV, combined with their superior manoeuvrability, enable HGVs to evade existing space and terrestrial sensors used to track ballistic missiles, posing an immediate threat to today’s radar networks and making HGVs well-suited for intercontinental (> 5500 km) targets. Securing HGV detection and tracking systems is of great interest to at-risk nations and cybersecurity researchers alike.


However, like hypersonic flight technologies, HGV defence technologies are heavily guarded secrets. The shortage of public-domain information did not stop academia from proposing various detection and tracking schemes, but a reasonable question is: “How credible and useful is current public-domain information, including academic publications, on HGV detection and tracking for academic researchers to base their cybersecurity research on?” To answer this question, we scanned and critically reviewed public-domain literature on HGV detection and tracking. We then identified ambiguities and knowledge gaps in the literature. In this paper, we provide a concise version of our multivocal literature review and an analysis of the identified ambiguities and knowledge gaps in our attempt to answer our earlier question.