CAPITOL HILL: Prompt Global Strike is a program to build a weapon that can destroy targets anywhere on earth within an hour of getting targeting data and permission to launch. Sandia Lab and the Army may have found the answer: the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.
So far, some aspects of PGS have attracted controversy. When the Pentagon wanted to explore putting a conventional warhead on a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile, many Democrats and some allies expressed concerns about how the Russians and other nuclear powers might react to a ballistic missile arcing towards a cave in northern Pakistan. While highly technical arguments bubbled behind the scenes about just what trajectory such a missile would take and whether it could be easily misinterpreted, the military kept pressing ahead with other technologies.
The other programs are the Air Force’s Conventional Strike Missile (CSM) and the DARPA/Air Force HTV-2 program (pictured above). The Air Force and DARPA, who pursued other technologies, weren’t nearly as successful as the Army’s system.
This is what the Sandia in-house magazine said last year about the first completely successful test of a hypersonic weapon:
It was the first time a Sandia-developed booster had flown a low-altitude, long-range horizontal flight path at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere; the first time eight grid fins (designed by Sandia and Huntsville, Ala.-based Dynetics Corp.) were used to stabilize a US missile system; and the first time a glide vehicle flew at hypersonic speeds at such altitude and range.
At last Wednesday’s space hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Lt. Gen. David Mann, who leads the Army Space And Missile Defense Command, said he was “on track to test in August.” If successful, that will lead to the Office of Secretary of Defense trying to figure out the way ahead for PGS. Mann said OSD is already talking to the Navy “on possible utilization of this capability.”