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20 January 2013


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How about ground launched intercontinental nuclear tipped cruise missiles- no need for bombers? The military wants stealth bombers to fight a conventional war with China (Air-Sea Battle). Oh, and the Ohio replacement is a mess. It only has 2/3 the number of missiles but it is 3 feet longer and over 1 and 1/2 times as expensive. The rip off of the taxpayer continues.


I like that out-of-the-box thinking. I do wonder, however, about the feasibility of an intercontinental air-breathing weapon. Consider that a cruise missile is basically a one-way, single-use drone. Just thinking about the sizes and ranges of aircraft on the market, we'd be talking about a very big airframe to cover that distance.

I share your puzzlement about the SSBN-X. It seems that the Navy Department wrote some ambitious requirements, and General Dynamics gave the resulting estimate. I've been wondering about marrying your cruise missile idea to Norman Polmar's notion of basing a smaller SSBN on a stretched version of the Virginia-class. The Royal Navy had briefly considered replacing its Vanguard SSBNs with a nuclear-armed SSGNs. These ships could be considerably less expensive. They would also come without so much possibility of a close-range counterforce strike, which one may or may not prefer.

I will be exploring this idea in a subsequent column.

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  • James Hasik is a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them.


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