Twitter Facebook Google RSS
 
National Defense > Blog > Posts > Report: Conventional Prompt Global Strike Weapons Face Challenges
Report: Conventional Prompt Global Strike Weapons Face Challenges
By Yasmin Tadjdeh
 

The ballistic missile submarine USS Alaska

The U.S. military has been putting research and development funding into conventional prompt global strike weapons, but more studies need to be done on the implications of actually using them, a new report released Sept. 3 said.
 
Conventional prompt global strike, or CPGS, would have the ability to rapidly deliver — within minutes or hours — warheads armed with explosives anywhere in the world. Military leaders are interested in using them against  "fleeting targets," or in areas that that are hard to reach, so-called anti-access/area denial scenarios. 
 
While the United States already has the ability to quickly launch nuclear weapons, substituting them with conventional warheads is an idea that still being debated, said James M. Acton, a senior associate in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of the report, 
 "Silver Bullet? Asking the Right Questions About Conventional Prompt Global Strike." 

The program will have to contend with budget cuts, and officials still need to study the ramifications of a strategy that could unknowingly set off a nuclear war scare, he added.
 
Currently, three different types of CPGS weapons are being proposed. The first are land- or sea-based rocket-launched hypersonic gliders, also known as boost-glide weapons. The second are ballistic missiles launched from Ohio-class submarines. Lastly, there are air-launched hypersonic cruise missiles. The Pentagon currently favors the boost-glide systems, he said at a discussion of the report.
 
One of the biggest sticking points with CPGS is that a conventional weapon may be mistaken for a nuclear bomb, he said. Use of such weapons would likely "increase the risk of escalation in a conflict," said Acton 
 
And there are ambiguities in other, perhaps even more important areas, he said. I
f the United States used non-ballistic weapons, there would also be questions about where the weapon was heading, and what exactly it was going to hit, such as conventional or nuclear weapon arsenals. That uncertainty could have serious ramifications, he said.
 
"Highly maneuverable boost-glide systems — and to an extent hypersonic cruise missiles — have ambiguity about where they are going to land," Acton said. "Countries observing them can't know where they are going to land because they are maneuverable, so this creates a risk that the United States is targeting another country."
 
Employing such weapons could be a double-edged sword, Acton said.
 
"There is a paradox here," Acton said. "Conventional prompt global strike may make war less likely, but should war occur, it could make escalation much harder to control."

Countries such as Russia or China, if they thought the United States was going to strike their anti-satellite weapons, could become hostile, he said. At the same time, there is preliminary evidence that both countries believe CPGS weapons would be effective, therefore making them less likely to attack.
 
The Pentagon needs to do more research before the military begins the procurement process of these weapons, Acton said. Particularly in a time of constrained budgets, the Defense Department needs to develop a scenario-based acquisition process and seriously consider if non-CPGS weapons may be more effective.
 
"If you don't look at this in a scenario-based way, there is a high risk of buying very expensive weapons that are not found to be very useful, because they just don't have the capabilities of dealing with specific scenarios in which you want to use them," said Acton. "In a time of fiscal austerity, focusing resources on the threats you think are most likely to arise and on the most effective way of combating those threats is the most strategic way forward."
 
Photo Credit: Navy

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post.
Items on this list require content approval. Your submission will not appear in public views until approved by someone with proper rights. More information on content approval.

Name: *

eMail *

Comment *

Title

Attachments

Name: *


eMail *


Comment *


 

Refresh
Please enter the text displayed in the image.
The picture contains 6 characters.

Characters *

  

Legal Notice *

NDIA is not responsible for screening, policing, editing, or monitoring your or another user's postings and encourages all of its users to use reasonable discretion and caution in evaluating or reviewing any posting. Moreover, and except as provided below with respect to NDIA's right and ability to delete or remove a posting (or any part thereof), NDIA does not endorse, oppose, or edit any opinion or information provided by you or another user and does not make any representation with respect to, nor does it endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other material displayed, uploaded, or distributed by you or any other user. Nevertheless, NDIA reserves the right to delete or take other action with respect to postings (or parts thereof) that NDIA believes in good faith violate this Legal Notice and/or are potentially harmful or unlawful. If you violate this Legal Notice, NDIA may, in its sole discretion, delete the unacceptable content from your posting, remove or delete the posting in its entirety, issue you a warning, and/or terminate your use of the NDIA site. Moreover, it is a policy of NDIA to take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other applicable intellectual property laws. If you become aware of postings that violate these rules regarding acceptable behavior or content, you may contact NDIA at 703.522.1820.

 

 

Bookmark and Share