Looks like its official, the Air Force won’t be using any type of ICBM to carry conventional warheads around the world at record speed to carry out the Prompt Global Strike mission. There have been lots of questions about how the service would achieve it’s plan hit high value targets on almost any spot on the globe within hours or minutes of a strike being ordered.
One option was the notion of a conventional ICBM. A problem with that idea was that a lot of people worried an ICBM launch would be confused as a nuclear first strike. Not something you want to have happen.
Now it seems the Air Force has ruled that out. According to Defense News:
The U.S. Defense Department’s planned Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) weapon is likely to be a hypersonic glider, a senior U.S. Air Force official said.
“Our focus is on boost-glide capabilities, including the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle concept,” said Maj. Gen. David Scott, the service’s operational requirements chief.
Scott said the concept of a conventional weapon that can strike anywhere on Earth in 30 to 40 minutes is still being developed.
“CPGS is something we are still figuring out with AT&L,” or the office of the defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, he said.
Scott said the weapon will not be a Trident missile with a conventional warhead, as he had seemed to suggest in a an earlier interview. The Trident is a submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that is armed with a nuclear warhead.
Oh, and technically, the Trident’s a sea-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) not an ICBM. Although, I suppose it would become an ICBM if it were used by the Air Force.