While wrestling with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is preparing weapons to fight the next battle from space, according to information in the 621-page, House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2008 defense appropriations bill.
The $459 billion bill, which awaits President Bush's signature, provides $100 million for a new "prompt global strike" program that could deliver a conventional, precision-guided warhead anywhere in the world within two hours. It takes funds away from development of a conventional warhead for the Navy's submarine-launched Trident Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and from an Air Force plan for the Common Aero Vehicle.
The new program, dubbed Falcon, for "Force Application and Launch from CONUS," centers on a small-launch-vehicle concept of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency describes Falcon as a "a reusable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) capable of delivering 12,000 pounds of payload at a distance of 9,000 nautical miles from [the continental United States] in less than two hours."