The Pentagon is developing cyber and other electronic weapons to attack enemy missile systems prior to launch as part of a new high-technology defense initiative, senior Pentagon officials disclosed to Congress on Wednesday.

The use of non-kinetic attacks against missile system computers, their sensors, and other networks, along with other high-technology means to knock out missiles on the ground, is called “left-of-launch” defense, a reference to the location on a timeline of the process of shooting down missiles.

Few details were provided on the plans for non-kinetic missile defenses that Brian McKeon, the principal defense undersecretary for policy, said were “underway” as a result of a new security environment that includes plans to use large-salvo missile attacks and other means to defeat current missile defense.

Left-of-launch missile defense was raised in a 2014 memorandum from then-Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert and then-Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno to the secretary of defense warning that missile defense spending was “unsustainable” because of sharp defense cuts. They called for the more cost-effective “left-of-launch” strategy.

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