U.S. to Spend $1B Over Five Years on Conventional Strike Systems

The Obama administration expects to spend more than $1 billion in the next half decade to study and develop potential non-nuclear "prompt global strike" systems, the U.S. State Department said yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 22).

The global strike technology is intended to offer an alternative to using long-range nuclear-tipped missiles to eliminate major imminent threats, such as a North Korean missile being prepared for launch. However, some observers have expressed concern that, under certain conditions, a conventional-armed ballistic missile might be mistaken for a strategic weapon, leading another nuclear power to launch a devastating response.

The Defense Department is assessing conventional prompt global strike capabilities as part of a review of its "long-range strike options," according to a State Department fact sheet released yesterday. The findings will be "reflected" in the Pentagon's budget request for fiscal 2012.

In the 2010 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, spending emphasized the preparation and exhibition of systems for a land-based global strike capability in the United States, according to the fact sheet. The administration is also looking at systems that would be carried on submarines.

Ongoing projects include the:

-- Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 Technology Experiments, which would receive $308 million in Pentagon funding from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2011 for development and two flight tests;

-- Conventional Strike Missile, which would receive $477 million from fiscal 2008 through fiscal 2013 to allow the Air Force "to complete the operational demonstration," the fact sheet says; and

-- Advanced Hypersonic Weapon Technology Experiment, which would receive $180 million from fiscal 2006 through this fiscal year to enable the Army to conduct a flight test.

A new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control deal, now awaiting ratification by legislatures in both nations, "allows the United States to deploy CPGS systems, and does not in any way limit or constrain research, development, testing, and evaluation of such concepts and systems, which offer the prospect of striking any target in the world in less than an hour," according to the State Department (see GSN, Dec. 13).

"Intercontinental ballistic missiles with a traditional trajectory would be accountable under the treaty; however, the treaty’s limits would accommodate any plans the United States might pursue during the life of this treaty to deploy conventional warheads on ballistic missiles," the fact sheet states. "Further, the United States made clear during the New START negotiations that we would not consider non-nuclear, long-range systems, which do not otherwise meet the definitions of the New START treaty (such as boost-glide systems that do not fly a ballistic trajectory), to be accountable under the treaty" (U.S. State Department release, Dec. 13).

December 14, 2010
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The Obama administration expects to spend more than $1 billion in the next half decade to study and develop potential non-nuclear "prompt global strike" systems, the U.S. State Department said yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 22).