Conventional Warheads for Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues for Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The United States has deployed long-range ballistic missiles in its strategic offensive nuclear forces for more than 40 years. Recently, some have proposed that the United States deploy conventional warheads on these missiles. This would provide the United States with the ability to strike promptly anywhere in the world, regardless of the presence of overseas bases or nearby naval forces. The Air Force and Navy have both studied the possible deployment of conventional warheads on their long-range ballistic missiles. The Navy sought funding, in FY2003 and FY2004, for research into a reentry vehicle that would be able to maneuver when approaching its target. The FY2007 Defense Budget requested 127 million to pursue the deployment of conventional warheads on Trident missiles, but the 109th Congress rejected most of this request. The FY2008 budget requests 175.4 million. The Air Force is pursuing, with DARPA, research into a number of technologies that might enhance the U.S. long-range strike capability. In particular, it is developing a hypersonic glide vehicle, known as the Common Aero Vehicle CAV, that could carry conventional munitions on modified Minuteman II or Peacekeeper missiles, or it could deploy these missiles with more familiar conventional warheads. This effort, now known as the Conventional Strike Missile CSM, could serve as a follow-on to the conventional Trident modification. The 110th Congress is likely to review these programs again when addressing the FY2008 budget request.
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