• Saturday, October 20, 2018

US lawmakers set 2022 target for DOD to field 'early operational' hypersonic strike capability

Discussion in 'Air Warfare' started by F-22Raptor, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. F-22Raptor

    F-22Raptor SENIOR MEMBER

    Jun 19, 2014
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    United States
    United States
    Congress will soon vote on a defense policy bill that requires the U.S. military to plan for an "early operational" variant of a hypersonic strike weapon by 2022, setting a new statutory expectation for the Conventional Prompt Strike technology development effort.

    The conference version of the House and Senate Armed Services committees' fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill adopts the position advanced by the House requiring the defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman to "plan to reach an early operational capability for the conventional prompt strike weapon system by not later than September 30, 2022."

    The Pentagon does not have a formal acquisition program of record for a hypersonic strike capability. The Defense Department is exploring potential boost-glide hypersonic technologies as part of a research and development effort overseen by the office of the secretary of defense, a project that has spent nearly $1 billion to date, with plans to allocate another $1.2 billion over the next five years.

    In accordance with congressional guidance in the FY-16 National Defense Authorization Act, DOD plans a materiel development decision for a Conventional Prompt Strike capability in FY-20, the initial gateway to a formal acquisition effort.

    The final FY-18 defense policy bill scrapped a House-proposed provisions to fence half the funding for the Conventional Prompt Strike program in the current fiscal year until the Pentagon provides lawmakers a report on the program, opting instead to set a 180-day deadline for the delivery of the report after the bill is enacted.

    The report, which is to be prepared by the Joint Chiefs chairman in consultation with the heads of U.S. European, Pacific and Strategic commands, is to outline "the required level of resources that is consistent with the level of priority associated to the capability gap."

    The required Pentagon appraisal is also to outline "the estimated period for the delivery of a medium-range early operational capability [and] the required level of resources necessary to field a medium-range conventional prompt strike weapon within the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States) or a similar sea-based system."

    In addition, the report is to address plans to ensure interoperability among any joint military hypersonic strike capabilities as well as plans -- including policy options -- "considered appropriate to address any potential risks of ambiguity from the launch or employment of such a capability."

    The Joint Requirements Oversight Council, led by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva, last year assured the heads of U.S. European and Pacific commands, who are watching China and Russia routinely flight test high-speed weapons, that "certain" hypersonic strike capabilities would be fielded within the FY-17 to FY-22 future years defense plan.

    Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in written responses to Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) following a March 4, 2016, hearing of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, explained DOD had promised commanders in Europe and the Pacific an initial hypersonic strike capability between FY-18 and FY-22.

    Aderholt had asked whether any combatant commanders had formally identified a need for a Conventional Prompt Global Strike capability, or the means to strike targets anywhere on earth in as little as an hour.

    Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, EUCOM chief, and Adm. Harry Harris, PACOM head, according to Carter, both "submitted high-priority requirements for these capabilities" as part of the routine process combatant commanders use to influence Pentagon resource decisions, in this case the shape of the FY-18 budget and the accompanying five-year spending plan.