03 June 2015
The U.S. military continues to explore long-range conventional prompt strike capabilities to strike “time-sensitive” targets across the globe on very short notice. Known as Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS), the programme has not yet translated into operational weapon systems because of technological and political challenges. Yet, it makes sense to start thinking about the possible introduction of conventional prompt strike systems, including intermediate range, into the Asia Pacific theatre.
Advocates for the development of a new category of long- range conventional strike systems for prompt delivery argue that these weapons will be essential in a changing strategic and operational environment facing U.S. forces. Four future missions have been discussed: (i) preventing the launch of a limited nuclear arsenal by an emerging nuclear weapons state; (ii) destroying or disabling “anti- satellite” (ASAT) weapons; (iii) countering “anti-access/ area-denial capabilities” (A2/AD) capabilities; and (iv) killing high-value terrorists and disrupting terrorist operations. Once operational, those weapons would enable the U.S. military to strike targets without relying on increasingly vulnerable forward operating bases. They would also be suitable for strikes against targets deep inside enemy territory in case that territory was out of reach of forward deployed U.S. forces. Targeting enemy air defences and command and control systems (C2), CPGS systems could be used to attack hostile “A2/ AD’” architectures. Moreover, long-range conventional strike weapons could strike targets across the globe in hours or even minutes—helping to counter enemy tactics of concealing targets or making them mobile— thereby reducing reaction time. Lastly, they could be used to destroy hardened and deeply buried targets to prevent a hostile launch of hidden weapons.
… Dr Benjamin Schreer is a Senior Fellow for Defence Strategy at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra, Australia. In December 2014 he was also a Visiting Fellow with the Military Transformations Programme within the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Dr Schreer holds a PhD in Political Science from the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany.
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Last updated on 16/11/2015