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Prompt Global Strike

Prompt Global Strike

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Prompt Global Strike is a United States military
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 effort to develop a system that can deliver a precision conventional weapon
Conventional weapon
The terms conventional weapons or conventional arms generally refer to weapons that are in relatively wide use that are not weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Conventional weapons include small arms and light weapons, sea and land mines, as well as ...

 strike anywhere in the world within one hour, in a similar manner to a nuclear ICBM
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

. Potential scenarios that would require such a fast response might include an impending North Korean missile launch. In April 2010, Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 General James Cartwright explained the system's rationale, stating that "Today, unless you want to go nuclear, [the conventional military response time is] measured in days, maybe weeks".


The PGS system will be designed to complement existing American rapid-response forces, such as Forward Deployed Forces, Air Expeditionary Groups (which can deploy within 48 hours) and carrier battle group
Carrier battle group
A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, together composing the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy was the first to assemble a large number of carriers into a single...

s (which can respond within 96 hours).
Possible delivery systems include:
  • a rocket similar to existing ICBMs, launched from the United States mainland, or via submarine
  • an air-launched hypersonic
    In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that is highly supersonic. Since the 1970s, the term has generally been assumed to refer to speeds of Mach 5 and above...

     cruise missile, such as the Boeing X-51
    Boeing X-51
    The Boeing X-51 is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic flight testing. It successfully completed its first free-flight on 26 May 2010 and also achieved the longest duration flight at speeds over Mach 5.The X-51 Waverider program is run as a cooperative effort of the United...

     or Advanced Hypersonic Weapon
  • a kinetic weapon launched from an orbiting space platform

In 2010, the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 prototyped a PGS system based on a modified Minuteman III
LGM-30 Minuteman
The LGM-30 Minuteman is a U.S. nuclear missile, a land-based intercontinental ballistic missile . As of 2010, the version LGM-30G Minuteman-III is the only land-based ICBM in service in the United States...

 ICBM. In March 2011, Air Force Major General David Scott stated that the service had no plans to use a sea- or land-based ICBM system for Prompt Global Strike, as they would be expensive to develop and potentially "dangerous." Instead, efforts would focus on a hypersonic
In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that is highly supersonic. Since the 1970s, the term has generally been assumed to refer to speeds of Mach 5 and above...

Unpowered aircraft are a group of aerial vehicles that can fly without onboard propulsion. They can be classified as gliders, balloons and kites. In this instance, 'flight' means a trajectory that is not merely a vertical descent such as a parachute. In the case of kites, the flight is obtained by...

. However, the following day, Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz said that an ICBM-based PGS system was still an option.

The warhead is expected to be a maneuverable vehicle, weighing some 2 tonnes (4,409.2 lb) including the payload, and will be able to deliver a unitary penetrator, numerous smart munitions, or even UAVs.


The administration of George W. Bush considered developing such a weapon in the 2000s, but rejected the idea because of fears that an ICBM-launched weapon would trigger the Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n nuclear-launch warning system, potentially provoking a nuclear war. However, the Obama administration
Presidency of Barack Obama
The Presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009 when he became the 44th President of the United States. Obama was a United States Senator from Illinois at the time of his victory over Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election...

 continued development of the system later in the decade, believing that it could allow the U.S. to shrink its nuclear arsenal while maintaining its deterrent and quick-strike capabilities.

A potential enemy cannot be certain that a launched ICBM contains only a conventional warhead, not a nuclear one. It is thus currently unclear what design features or precautions could convince China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Russia, two countries with launch-detection systems and nuclear ICBMs, to ignore their early-warning systems. Current ideas include a low-trajectory missile design, or allowing Russian and Chinese inspection of PGS missile sites.

On 11 April 2010, United States Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 Robert Gates
Robert Gates
Dr. Robert Michael Gates is a retired civil servant and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W....

 indicated that the United States already possessed a Prompt Global Strike capability. This coincided with the New START
New START is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms...

 disarmament treaty signed on 8 April 2010, which set new, lower limits on ballistic missiles and their warheads. The treaty does not distinguish between conventional and nuclear versions of weapons, meaning any ballistic PGS missiles and warheads would count toward the new limit. However, the U.S. State Department has stated that this does not constrain plans for PGS deployment, since current plans do not come near the limits. Nonetheless, in December 2010, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n military experts indicated that the forthcoming S-500 missile defense
Missile defense
Missile defense is a system, weapon, or technology involved in the detection, tracking, interception and destruction of attacking missiles. Originally conceived as a defence against nuclear-armed Intercontinental ballistic missiles , its application has broadened to include shorter-ranged...

 system would include anti-hypersonic defenses.

AHW test

On 18 November 2011, the first Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) glide vehicle was successfully tested by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command
The United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command is a specialized major command within the United States Army. The command was established in 1997...

, as part of the Prompt Global Strike program. The missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility
Pacific Missile Range Facility
The Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands is a U.S. Naval facility and airport located five nautical miles northwest of the central business district of Kekaha, in Kauai County, Hawaii, United States....

 in Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, and struck a target at the Reagan Test Site
Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site
The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, commonly referred to as the Reagan Test Site , is a missile test range in the Pacific Ocean. It covers about and includes rocket launch sites at the Kwajalein Atoll , Wake Island, and Aur Atoll. It primarily functions as a test facility for U.S...

 on Kwajalein Atoll, over 3700 kilometres (2,299.1 mi) away, in under 30 minutes.

See also

  • Air Force Global Strike Command
  • Anti-ship ballistic missile
    Anti-ship ballistic missile
    An anti-ship ballistic missile is a military quasiballistic missile system currently in developement, of medium or intermediate range, designed to hit a warship at sea...

  • ArcLight (missile)
    ArcLight (Missile)
    The ArcLight program is a missile development program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency with the goal of equipping ships like Aegis cruisers with a weapon system that is capable of striking targets nearly anywhere on the globe, thereby increasing the power of surface ships to a level...

    , a DARPA program using US Navy ships to launch a smaller missile
  • Boeing X-37
    Boeing X-37
    The Boeing X-37 is an American unmanned vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing spaceplane. The X-37 is operated by the United States Air Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies...

  • DARPA Falcon Project, an earlier conventional ICBM/hypersonic weapons program, out of which Prompt Global Strike evolved
  • Project Thor, a proposed kinetic bombardment
    Kinetic bombardment
    A kinetic bombardment is the act of attacking a planetary surface with an inert projectile, where the destructive force comes from the kinetic energy of the projectile impacting at very high velocities...

     weapon in which an orbiting "tungsten
    Tungsten , also known as wolfram , is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74.A hard, rare metal under standard conditions when uncombined, tungsten is found naturally on Earth only in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as...

     telephone pole" is de-orbited to strike a ground target at orbital speed
    Orbital speed
    The orbital speed of a body, generally a planet, a natural satellite, an artificial satellite, or a multiple star, is the speed at which it orbits around the barycenter of a system, usually around a more massive body...

  • Conventional Trident

External links