I have a humanoid creature in my world that can emit and sense waves similar to radar (sort of like a bat with echolocation) and it can also fly at supersonic speeds due to jet propulsion. Does anyone know if it might be possible for an intelligent creature like this to find and disarm/disable a USA-made non-nuclear missile mid-flight assuming a flight duration for the missile from launch to target of 30 minutes? There would be no other aircraft in the sky. The humanoid could already have knowledge of technical information on the missile but wouldn’t have access to proprietary tools (just standard tools, weapons and explosives). What would be the most practical way to disarm the missile?

  • $\begingroup$ Would suggest you remove "nuclear-weapons" from your tag list, since you explicitly state that the missile is non-nuclear. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Mar 25, 2019 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ Hey, Y Mi, you might want to limit it to one question. Since you've not specified the launch location relative to the target, and as far as we know your humanoid creature could be on the opposite side of the planet how would they get there in time? Also Jet engines wouldn't be much use outside the atmosphere thus I ask what kind of missile? Could this humanoid creature have access to a sledghammer to knock a fin off the missile? $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2019 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ What model of missile are you thinking of? Subsonic vs. supersonic, and the size and altitude are important considerations for this. $\endgroup$
    – ltmauve
    Mar 25, 2019 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for answering. I'm thinking of the fastest intercontinental ballistic missile that the USA possesses. I would actually have many of these humanoids spaced out across the planet at strategic locations. They could definitely have a sledgehammer. Is that enough to disarm? $\endgroup$
    – Y Mi
    Mar 25, 2019 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for making the point about altitude and atmosphere. This missile would be the most destructive, fastest, non-nuclear missile in the US arsenal. My humanoid cannot survive outside the atmosphere which makes me wonder: can they even survive supersonic travel? Would unshielded supersonic flying cause breathing problems? $\endgroup$
    – Y Mi
    Mar 25, 2019 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


Swat It Out of the Sky

There are no short-range supersonic cruise missiles in the US arsenal. Your humanoid can somehow travel at supersonic speed, so catching the missile is no problem. It matches speed with the missile, crawls up to the nose cone, and screws a small explosive in place. It then leaves. Boom.

Alternately, it crawls up to the nose cone (or by the stabilizing fins), and takes off. Jet wash from supersonic travel ought to be sufficient to disable the missile.

Additional point to address - missiles are not hard to find - radar would be largely unnecessary. Shooting them down is much harder, but a supersonic humanoid makes that much easier.

  • $\begingroup$ Great answer! Thank you! I figured that the radar might be necessary if it was at night. You're saying that radar on the ground before the humanoid takes off could communicate the location and trajectory of the missile with sufficient accuracy that the creature could get to the general vicinity fast enough to visually locate the missile. $\endgroup$
    – Y Mi
    Mar 25, 2019 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose. You've made a comment suggesting that this isn't necessarily useful, but given a 30 minute flight time, assuming your creature's manipulation speed is human normal, you'd need maybe a couple of minutes to position the explosive/takeoff point. You'd also need the missile to be taken out sufficiently short of the target not to cause collateral damage. So your intercept window is down to maybe 25 minutes. The operational radius of your humanoid is therefore rather strictly limited - visual recognition might be their only option. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Mar 25, 2019 at 23:57

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