Secretary Orr and General Skantze termed the B-1 program a resounding success, “ahead of schedule and under cost.” The latter pointed out that although it took two decades to produce the first B-1, once the go-ahead was given, “it’s been a positive case study in program management.” After nailing down the requirements, General Skantze said, “the Air Force stuck to them. Cost, schedule, technical, and supportability needs caught equal attention.” But the program, he added, is more than a successful product of a strong military and industry team: “It’s a testament to a forward-thinking Congress and American public. Without their consensus, the bomber leg of the triad—and so the whole triad—would not be as strong as it is today.”
But in spite of their obvious pride in and support of the B-1B program, the symposium speakers shied away from recommending continued acquisition of the B-1B beyond the 100 aircraft currently budgeted. General Davis conceded that SAC could easily “find uses for additional B-1s, but we have to allow for what the budget affords . . . in a world of finite resources.” He stressed that “I can live with 100 B-1s,” provided they are backed up by the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB), also known as Stealth, “which takes advantage of a lot of technology that simply can’t be put on the B-1B.” Asserting that “there are no show-stoppers” slowing down the ATB, he emphasized that it “is in our interest to pursue that program and to produce” the Stealth bomber. General Skantze explained that the Air Force’s two-bomber policy was born in 1981 of the need to “put 100 B-1s rapidly into the force.” At that time, he said, ATB had to be considered a high-risk venture, making the case for a two-bomber approach all the more compelling.
Consistent support of this approach by the Air Force has been “our strength,” but it does not mean that, as “individual Air Force officers, we wouldn’t want some more B-1s.” But personal desire must not stand in the way of USAF’s fundamental bomber strategy or jeopardize the ATB program. The Commander of AFSC’s Aeronautical Systems Division, Lt. Gen. Thomas H. McMullen, told the AFA meeting that the dispute over B-1 vs. ATB “is behind us” and that there is no good reason to resurrect it: “The issue now is to sustain the momentum” of the ATB program.
Referring to a congressional amendment that would require public disclosure of the total costs of the ATB program before Congress authorizes production of the Stealth bomber, General Skantze suggested that such a measure was not in the national interest at this time:
“The things we do in the Stealth technology program [represent] the highest technical leverage that we can generate to buy the technological edge over [the Soviet Union’s quantitative advantages]. Maintaining the details of these programs—even their dollar values—in a classified form benefits national security. I would not want to make this public unless it is absolutely necessary.”
The Strategic Threat
The growth of Soviet military capabilities is prolific across the board, but especially pronounced in the strategic offensive and defensive sector, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Deputy Director for External Affairs, A. Denis Clift, told the AFA symposium. Major strides by the USSR, the DIA official explained, include the development and pending deployment of two mobile advanced-technology ICBMs, the ten-warhead SS-X-24 and the initially single-warhead but eventually MIRVed SS-X-25. The SS-X-24 is expected to be deployed in silos next year and on rail-mobile launchers the year thereafter. This weapon will replace the MIRVed SS-17 and SS-19 silo-based ICBMs that carry fewer warheads. The SS-X-25 seems to be a replacement for the SS-11s.
A version of the mobile SS-X-25 appears capable of carrying several warheads. This weapon is designed to be “hidden in the countryside,” which makes tracking, monitoring, and targeting by the US difficult, according to Mr. Clift. In addition, the SS-X-25, which is roughly the same size as the US Minuteman ICBM, is housed in “garages” with sliding roofs and thus can be launched rapidly, even when these weapons are not dispersed in the field in on-road or off-road mobile fashion. The USSR’s commitment to the mobile deployment of its new family of ICBMs clearly represents a major investment decision. Such systems require substantially broader support infrastructures than do silo-based systems and thus are much more costly to operate and maintain.
In addition to the two new mobile ICBMs, the SS-X-24 and SS-X-25, the Soviets will put at least three other new ICBMs into flight test in the near future, Mr. Clift disclosed. These new weapons are part of the so-called fifth generation of Soviet ICBMs and include a new silo-based heavy ICBM to replace the SS-18 (the world’s largest ICBM with about twice the throw-weight of MX), a new version of the SS-X-24, and a new version of the SS-X-25. The follow-on to the SS-18 and the growth version of the SS-X-24 are solid-propellant missiles, according to the DIA official. The current rate of buildup suggests that, by the mid-1990s, the Soviet ICBM inventory will be made up almost entirely of new, fifth-generation systems.
In the related and, under certain circumstances, complementary field of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, the Soviets are expected to have fielded more than 450 SS-20 launchers by 1987. More new SS-20 bases were started in 1984 than in any previous year. The total would have been even higher if the Soviets had not deactivated SS-20 bases in the central USSR to convert to SS-X-25 bases. A follow-on to the SS-20 began flight tests in 1984. This new version also carries three warheads and probably provides improved lethality. The presently deployed SS-20 force carries about 2,400 warheads, according to Mr. Clift.
The modernization program is equally intense and comprehensive in the field of Soviet sea-based strategic offensive forces and will result over the next few years in the replacement of the entire MIRVed Soviet SLBM force and the deployment of much better nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). In addition to the deployment of Delta IV and Typhoon SSBNs that is under way, an advanced new class of Soviet submarines is likely to enter the force in the early 1990s. Also in the offing is the deployment of the new SS-NX-23 SLBM on Delta IV and Delta III SSBNs. The increased range of this new SLBM, relative to that of the SS-N-18 missile carried by the Delta class, will make the SS-NX-23equipped SSBNs more survivable. They will be able to operate closer to Soviet shores, where their own naval forces can protect them better. There is also evidence that the Soviets are readying a replacement for the SS-N-20, which is a six-to-nine MIRV SLBM carried by the Typhoon-class SSBNs, as well as a growth version of the SS-NX-23, Mr. Clift said.
The Soviet commitment to modernize comprehensively their strategic offensive forces extends to the USSR’s strategic bombers. The fact that the Soviets—for the first time since the 1960s—are modernizing their bombers on a high-priority, all-encompassing basis suggests that Moscow is assigning a greater role in intercontinental attack to these weapons. Especially noteworthy in this context is the fact that the Soviets did not want to delay this modernization by waiting for the full operational capability of their brand-new Blackjack bomber. As an interim step, Moscow instead resumed production of an older type of heavy bomber, the Bear, and thus was able to deploy a new air-launched cruise missile, the AS-15 ALCM, at least four years earlier than otherwise possible, according to the DIA official. About twenty-five of the newly produced Bear bombers, known as the “H” models, have entered the Soviet inventory so far, he added. Blackjack, a strategic bomber similar to the B-I B but faster and larger, is expected to enter the operational inventory in about three years.
The AS-15 ALCM is the first in a series of deployments of long-range, land-attack cruise missiles. US intelligence experts expect to see between 2,000 to 3,000 nuclear-armed cruise missiles enter the Soviet inventory over the next ten years. These new cruise missiles will include air-launched, sea-launched, and ground-launched variants. Among these new designs, according to Mr. Clift, is the 3,000-kilometer-range SS-NX-21, which will be carried by such new Soviet attack submarines as the Victor III class, the Sierra class, the Mike class, and the Akula class.
Growth in Intercontinental Attack Forces
In the aggregate, the growth of Soviet strategic offensive forces over the next few years could result in a doubling of the number of deployed nuclear warheads.
The Soviet strategic forces consist now of some 9,000 warheads deployed on some 2,500 ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers. Assuming that the Soviets remain roughly within the limits specified by SALT II—meaning that they only modernize and don’t increase the number of launch platforms—their deployed warhead inventory will grow to somewhat more than 12,000. If, on the other hand, the Soviets exercise no restraint and instead choose to step up their capabilities, US intelligence credits them with the ability to reach an inventory of deployed warheads by the mid-1990s of somewhere between 16,000 and 21,000.
Hand in glove with the expansion of Soviet strategic offensive forces is an across-the-board modernization of strategic defenses. The Soviets are expected by 1987 to complete the modernization of their antiballistic missile (ABM) system ringing Moscow. Consisting of 100 silo-based high-acceleration missiles and modified Galosh interceptors, this system will provide the Soviets with both an exo- and an endoatmospheric (outside and inside the atmosphere) defense capability, according to Mr. Clift. This improved intercept capability will probably be adequate to protect key targets in and around the Soviet capital from small-scale strategic attacks.
By the end of the decade, a new network of large phased-array radars will probably have achieved full operational status, giving the Soviets a much improved capability for ballistic missile early warning, attack assessment, and accurate target tracking. The US intelligence community is not sure if this network of phased-array radars will constitute the backbone of a Soviet territorial ballistic ABM system or is merely a first step in that direction, to be followed by additional generations of advanced ground-based ABM radars.
Augmenting the ABM efforts currently in train is the pending deployment of the SA-X-12, a versatile, hybrid system that can engage conventional aircraft, cruise missiles, and tactical ballistic missiles. This mobile system will probably be deployed in quantity with Soviet ground forces by the end of this year and is judged to be effective against some types of US strategic ballistic missile reentry vehicles as well. This weapon, the DIA official pointed out, blurs the distinction between air defense and ABM systems. As the Soviets develop yet newer, more capable air defense missile systems, this differentiation problem is bound to become more severe.
It is clear already to US intelligence experts that the USSR’s continuing development programs give that country the potential for widespread ABM deployments. The Soviets have in production the major components for an ABM system that could be used for widespread or even nationwide coverage. The components include radars, above-ground launchers, and the high-acceleration missiles that will be deployed around Moscow. The US intelligence community has concluded that the Soviets could undertake rapidly paced ABM deployments to strengthen the defense of Moscow, defend key targets in the Western USSR, and extend protection to key targets east of the Urals by the early 1990s. Complementing the Soviet ABM program is the modernization of the USSR’s air defense network.
Deployment of highly capable, new, low-altitude strategic air defense weapons is being stepped up. Deployment of the new SA-10 all-altitude surface-to-air missile (SAM) is proceeding apace. New combat aircraft with much better capabilities against low-flying aircraft are entering the Soviet inventory in large numbers, and deployment of the Mainstay airborne warning and control system (a counterpart to USAF’s E-3A AWACS) is getting under way. However, there is general consensus in the US intelligence community that, during the next ten years, Soviet air defenses probably won’t be capable of inflicting sufficient losses against attacking US bombers and cruise missiles to prevent large-scale damage to the USSR.
Protecting the Leadership
To the Kremlin, the sine qua non of “winning” a nuclear war is to ensure the survival of the leadership of the state and party. With as little as a few hours’ warning, Mr. Clift told the AFA meeting, a large percentage of the wartime management structure could survive the initial effects of a large-scale US nuclear attack. US intelligence sees evidence of up to 1,500 relocation facilities for Soviet leaders at the national and regional levels. Deep underground facilities for the top national leadership probably guarantee their survival in case of a protracted conflict.
Closely linked to Soviet efforts to achieve a survivable infrastructure are programs that bolster the survivability of their command and control facilities. The Soviets’ confidence in their ability to wage global conflict while at the same time limiting damage to the “motherland” hinges on the twin requirements of protecting their own command and control facilities against destruction by US strategic forces and of the ability of their strategic forces to disrupt or destroy this nation’s command and control systems. Because of the extensive redundancy and extreme hardness built into the Soviet command and control net, it seems highly likely to US intelligence experts that the Soviets could maintain overall continuity and connectivity of these facilities, even though some degradation might occur. Also, they might lack adequate endurance. Conversely, there is little doubt that the Soviets, in case of nuclear conflict, plan to launch repetitive attacks against US and allied strategic command control and communications (C3) nets in an attempt to prevent or impair the coordination of retaliatory strikes. The obvious objective would be to ease the burden on Soviet strategic defenses and to deny the US the ability to marshal military and civilian resources to reconstitute its forces.
Advanced Technology Threats
The Soviets treat space as an integral part of their overall offensive and defensive force structure, not as a separate arena or a sanctuary, according to US intelligence assessments. At the same time, the Soviets do not yet appear capable of denying the US use of its space assets in case of global war. The Soviet ASAT space weapons—backstopped by the nuclear-armed Galosh ABM interceptors and two ground-based high-energy lasers—appear capable of destroying or interfering with some US national security spacecraft in near-earth orbit. At the same time, they seem to lack the ability on a comprehensive basis to threaten military spacecraft in higher orbits.
In the view of US intelligence experts, it is likely that the Soviets would attempt to destroy or damage US satellites during an intense conventional conflict or in the initial stages of a nuclear war. It is probable, however, that Soviet ASAT capabilities would not survive a US nuclear attack. The Soviets appear to recognize this shortfall and are working on improved ASAT systems.
A critical first step in this direction, the DIA official suggested, involves intense buildups of space-launch capabilities and development of a “spaceplane” capable of performing ASAT missions. Such a vehicle might do double duty by also serving as a defense mechanism for future large space stations. The Soviets are adding two huge launch systems to their arsenal of launchers. One of these new launch systems generates about 1,000,000 pounds of thrust on liftoff, while the other one appears capable of producing up to 6,000,000 pounds of thrust and of delivering into orbit payloads weighing as much as 150 tons, according to Mr. Clift.
The potential benefit of directed-energy and kinetic-energy weapons in such missions as warfare in space, air defense, conventional warfare, and, over the long term,
ballistic missile defense seems abundantly clear to Soviet planners-and designers. The US intelligence community, Mr. Clift told the AFA meeting, estimates that the Soviet laser program, measured by US standards, amounts to a $1 billion a year effort. Two facilities at the Saryshagan test range appear to include high-energy lasers potentially capable of functioning as ASAT weapons. A massive Soviet program seems to aim at the development of ground-based laser weapons for terminal defense against US ballistic missile RVs. The Soviets are expected to test the feasibility of a ground-based ABM laser during the 1980s, probably using one of the high-energy laser facilities at Saryshagan. Operational deployment of such a weapon, the DIA official speculated, probably won’t occur until after the year 2000.
Other high-energy laser developments under way in the Soviet Union seem to be oriented toward strategic air defense applications as well as for use aboard aircraft. In addition, work is progressing on high-energy laser weapons for use in space. It is likely, the DIA official said, that the Soviets will test a prototype high-energy, space-based laser ASAT weapon in low orbit by the first half of the next decade. But even if the tests are successful, such a system probably could not reach operational status in less than ten years from now.
There is evidence that major research programs in progress in the Soviet Union are probing the feasibility of space-based particle-beam weapons. The technical requirements associated with such an undertaking are judged to be extremely severe and militate against the probability of prototype testing before the year 2000, Mr. Clift suggested. In another area of advanced technology, that of radio-frequency (RF) weapons, the Soviets are thought to have mastered all associated research and development hurdles and are probably capable of developing prototypes of such a system. RF weapons can interfere with or destroy critical components of missiles and satellites. Lastly, the Soviets are known to have conducted major research and development programs since the 1960s on technologies with potential applications for hypervelocity kinetic-energy weapons.
Overall, US intelligence finds that Soviet strategic offensive and defensive forces absorb about one-fifth of that nation’s defense spending. Current US estimates suggest that the combined investments and operating expenditures for projected Soviet strategic offensive forces—comprised of intercontinental attack and intermediate-range weapons—and strategic defensive forces will grow by between five and seven percent over the next five years. This growth rate forecast assumes that there will be no widespread ABM deployments. If, on the other hand, the Soviets decide to go ahead with a territorial ABM system, spending on strategic forces in the aggregate might increase by as much as ten percent over this period. While Soviet economic problems appear to be severe, there is no evidence that the Kremlin will forgo any major strategic programs, according to US experts.
The ICBM Challenge
The decision by Congress to curtail the Administration’s acquisition and deployment level of MX was discussed by a number of symposium speakers and faulted on operational as well as economic grounds. The effects of different administrations and Congress continually adjusting the number of MX Peacekeepers to be produced and deployed, according to General Skantze, are profound: “In fact, we will never produce Peacekeeper missiles at an economic rate because of the political perturbations.” He termed the MX program a classic case of vacillation by Congress and the executive branch. The missile was conceived in the mid-1960s, but Congress did not authorize full-scale development of the missile until 1979.
“After three false starts with earlier basing modes that cost the taxpayer $3.5 billion, Congress last year voted to deploy 100 Peacekeepers in Minuteman silos. Now, some elected officials don’t like the basing mode for Peacekeeper and are restricting the number we can. produce and deploy. . . . That costs money and more money. It sends confusing signals about our national will [and] detracts from our ability to provide an essential military capability,” the AFSC Commander complained. General Davis commented on Congress’s plans to limit the missile’s deployment by saying that “fifty is better than none, but it’s not enough to meet the very real military requirement.” He termed it “unfortunate” that MX “has become such a political football. Military requirements and military utility hardly enter into the debate anymore.”
General Davis and Maj. Gen. Aloysius G. Casey. the Commander of AFSC’s Ballistic Missile Office, pointed out that reducing the number of deployed MXs to fewer than one hundred weapons—and thus to fewer than 1.000 warheads—does violence to the economics of the program because a fixed number of 123 additional missiles is needed for long-term testing, regardless of the size of the deployed force. Based on an assumed life span of fifteen years. the Joint Chiefs of Staff and SAC determined that 123 spare missiles-108 for operational test and evaluation (OT&E) and another fifteen for “aging surveillance”—are needed to demonstrate on a recurring basis to both the National Command Authorities and the Soviets that the weapon will work well and reliably in an operational environment. This number of test assets. General Davis said, is an irreducible minimum for maintaining an essential level of confidence in the operational effectiveness of the MX “whether you deploy [fifty, one hundred], or a thousand.”
General Casey termed the halving of the number of deployed MX Peacekeepers a “very unwise choice for the country.” A fifty percent cut in the number of deployed MX missiles and of the warheads they carry results in a cost savings of only $2.883 billion—or thirteen percent of the total program costs—because of the requirement for 123 spare missiles, he pointed out. Shaving thirteen percent off the total program costs by cutting the deployed force in half would have major repercussions in terms of the weapon’s operational effectiveness and arms-control leverage, he stressed. Beyond the obvious impact on the credibility of the US strategic deterrent, deploying 500 fewer MX warheads—and fifty fewer missiles—than planned would result in a “degradation of the resilience of Peacekeeper to SLBM attacks that [involve] relatively short arrival times.” The Soviets, for one, would have fewer hardened launch control centers to contend with as the number of deployed MX missiles is reduced, according to General Casey.
Congress’s vote on the MX program last year, he explained, was focused almost exclusively on the weapon’s contribution to arms control at the expense of “its military value.” Also. General Casey told the AFA meeting, “Our own rhetoric about survivability over the past ten years also has shifted the emphasis away from the value of the weapon [and] its contributions to deterrence.” He stressed that the heart of deterrence “is the fear of counterattack” and that, concomitantly, “the survivability of nuclear forces should not be looked at as an absolute quantity.” There isn’t any system, he explained, “that can’t be wiped out when enough of a threat is applied. Deterrence is a relative term measured [by] the price of the attack, the relative ability to withstand the attack, and the response of the surviving force.” Measured against these standards, MX “has great military value” because of its large throw-weight and accuracy, he pointed out. He added that if absolute survivability were the ultimate and sole measure of merit of effective deterrence, there would be an easy answer to the problem: “We know how to build a survivable missile. We [would] put it deep under ground [even though] it might take a few weeks to get out.” When people are told that, under this scheme, it would take a few weeks to fire the missile, “their eyes glaze over. The point is that absolute survivability is not the most important military characteristic” of a strategic nuclear weapon, General Casey said.
Historically, he suggested, deterrence of totalitarian regimes worked when it imbued would-be aggressors with the fear of losing the underpinnings of their political existence, their military forces. Nazi Germany did not invade England during World War II because Hitler, who cared little about his own “countervalue” targets, apparently feared that he might lose the Wehrmacht in the process, General Casey theorized. He extended this reasoning to argue that in deterring the Soviet Union it is as important to make clear that both its countervalue and counterforce targets would be attacked and destroyed in case of nuclear war. This circumstance makes the hard-target capability of the US strategic offensive forces—embodied by MX—the cornerstone of effective deterrence, he told the AFA meeting.
The BMO Commander calculated that one MX Peacekeeper warhead is the equivalent of about five or six Minuteman III warheads in terms of hard-target kill capability. Referring to the contention that the US Navy’s newest SLBM—the D-5, which is expected to enter the operational inventory by the end of this decade—could and should be substituted for MX, General Casey suggested that this would be an unwise decision: “I have great respect for the US Navy’s SLBMs. But let me say that right now we have demonstrated better performance and accuracy [in eight MX test flights] than [are the hoped-for] goals of D-5.”
The SSBN force, like the other elements of the strategic triad, have their own peculiar pluses and minuses and achieve full effectiveness only in concert with other strategic weapons. The drawbacks associated with SSBNs, he explained, are “that they are vulnerable in port, they are relatively vulnerable at sea, they have to worry about command and control, and should they ever get a location threat [meaning to become detectable in broad ocean areas], they would be reduced to very few targets.”
General Casey found it ironic that Congress would pressure the Administration to reduce the MX deployment at a time when the Soviets need to be dissuaded from continuing their massive buildup of new, large-throw-weight ICBMs: “The deployment of one hundred MX Peacekeepers is really the minimum we [must] do in furtherance of our planned approach to arms control and, ultimately perhaps, of the reduction of” the MIRVed ICBMs on alert. The Air Force, he said, will continue its highly promising work on superhard silos as a possible means for increasing the survivability of MX.
The SICBM Program
The central importance of the ICBM force to strategic deterrence, General Davis told the AFA meeting, is behind the Air Force’s and the Administration’s plan to have “one system deployed, one in production, and another in development. It’s a situation we haven’t seen in the strategic arena for a very long time.” The ICBM in development is the small ICBM (SICBM), or Midgetman. General Casey said the SICBM program is “off to a fast start,” with twenty-three contractors already signed up and industry providing excellent contributions to the broad concept definition in progress. The program’s full-scale engineering development phase is scheduled to get under way in October 1986, he reported.
The Air Force and its contractors are examining ways to base the new weapon in superhard silos as well as to deploy it in hardened mobile launchers. The latter approach, he explained, offers flexibilities similar to those of SSBNs and strategic bombers, meaning “you can operate in different areas and [thereby] change the attack price.” Superhard silo basing, on the other hand, “has all the advantages of fixed silos in terms of O&M costs.” New techniques promise that this basing mode “can be made much, much harder than we originally thought.” A bonus aspect of these technical advances, he added, is the fact that the cost of superhardening has come down from the original estimates. Also, ICBMs deployed in superhard silos, “regardless of what happens to SDI [the Strategic Defense Initiative], are the most easily defended system” by means of ballistic missile defenses.
General Skantze, elaborating on the Air Force’s management approach to the SICBM program, said that “in pre-full-scale development, every stage of the small ICBM is being competed. We have two to four contractors working on each subsystem.” Because of budget considerations, “we will down-select’ to one for each system segment for [full-scale development]; however, our goal is to maintain second sources through FSD if feasible. Early contractual and technological competition minimizes risk during production and sets the stage for a reliable, capable, affordable weapon system.”
Assuming that the SICBM is held to a single-warhead configuration, there “can’t be any doubt that its cost-per-warhead will be greater than that of MX,” General Casey told the AFA meeting. The entire cost of the MX program, based on one hundred deployed and 123 spare missiles, comes to $16.6 billion in FY ’85 dollars or $21.5 billion in “then-year dollars,” he said. This translates into a cost of $166 million per fielded missile—or “$16.6 million per warhead that is ninety-eight percent of the time on alert for twenty years.” Measured in current dollars, that figure is below the fielded cost of Minuteman II, he said. The fielded per-warhead cost of Midgetman, General Casey reported, “probably will be five to six times that [of MX], because a missile goes with every warhead.”
The Need for SRAM II
One of the key issues dividing this Congress involves standoff weapons that can augment strategic bombers in nuclear as well as conventional warfare. Key here are SRAM II, the advanced cruise missile (ACM), and JTACMS, the joint tactical missile system. The short-range attack missile (SRAM) now in operation is a rocket-propelled missile, the last one of which was delivered ten years ago. As General McMullen pointed out, the SRAM force is approaching the end of its service life. Its replacement, SRAM II, he explained, is to be carried on penetrating bombers, the B-1B initially and eventually also on ATB. The SRAM II program is in “pre-full-scale development, which means we’re defining the missile and answering fundamental questions like whether it will be rocket- or ramjet-propelled.” (Since then, the Aeronautical Systems Division reportedly recommended to the Department of the Air Force that ramjet propulsion be dropped from further consideration.)The central traits of the SRAM follow-on design, he added, are greater survivability, range, accuracy, and reliability than the original design.
The first generation of operational cruise missiles, known as the ALCM-B, started to enter the inventory about five years ago; the last of the 1,763 ALCM-Bs will be delivered to SAC in October 1986, according to the ASD Commander. The program—”one of the successes that [in terms of media coverage] falls on the cutting room floor”—is being completed on schedule and under cost, with the Air Force having turned back “nearly $40 million in budget savings during the last two years,” he reported. He added that “the high survivability, the long range, and the accuracy of the relatively low-cost cruise missile [place] a large number of enemy targets at risk, even in the face of more sophisticated air defenses and hardening measures.” Once launched by the bomber force from standoff positions, “it penetrates well because it is small and flies low—and hence is hard to detect. At the same time, because we send in lots of them, the cruise missile will create confusion; they should saturate and thereby dilute enemy defenses” and make life much easier for the penetrating bomber force that follows.
At the time the decision was made to terminate the ALCM-B buy at 1,763 missiles, development of a follow-on system, the advanced cruise missile (ACM), was initiated. This program, General McMullen said, is now in full-scale development and will result in a weapon that “outdoes ALCM in important areas like range and penetrability.” Other details of this design, which incorporates advanced low-observable technology, are classified.
The JTACMS, in addition to serving as a sophisticated conventional standoff missile, could, in the view of some congressional experts, serve as a substitute for SRAM II if it were equipped with a nuclear warhead. JTACMS is a promising candidate for deployment on all strategic bombers—B-52, B-1B, and ATB—according to General McMullen. He suggested, however, that its primary application should be in conventional warfare missions.
General Davis acknowledged that the combination of HE (high-energy conventional explosives) and the accuracy of standoff weapons measured “in tens of feet” makes it possible to attack some SIOP (single integrated operational plan, this country’s strategic master plan) targets by nonnuclear means. Advanced conventional weapons of this type, General Davis told the AFA meeting, “have enough lethality to do the essential job, such as taking down [Soviet] plants that are producing strategic nuclear material.”
Such targets, he explained, don’t require total destruction. Taking down part of the target to put the plant out of commission would be sufficient. “We can do this with nonnuclear weapons. As a result, it might be attractive to deal with certain parts of the SIOP targeting complex by conventional means, even though we won’t be able to do the whole job without nuclear weapons.” Overtime, he predicted, an increasingly greater share of SIOP targets could be dealt with in this manner, “but I don’t believe we will ever be able to disinvent nuclear weapons.”
In the related field of theater warfare by conventional means, Aeronautical Systems Division is working on technologies that enhance SAC’s ability to perform such missions: “We are upgrading the conventional weapon capability of the non-ALCM-carrying B-52Gs to include the Harpoon antiship missile and the capability to interface with any conventional weapon built to MIL STD [military standard] 1760—a standard definition of the interface between weapons and aircraft,” according to General McMullen. Another significant ASD effort in support of SAC’s bomber fleet, he said, is the Common Strategic Rotary Launcher, which “will mount up in the B-52H bomb bay and will carry all of the air-droppable, air-launched strategic weapons.” General McMullen added that these launchers, “with a slight mod[ification], will then be used on the B-1B when the B-52s phase out. What’s more, a… similar launcher will go on the ATB.”
The F100 Engine Spares Situation
Both Gen. Earl T. O’Loughlin, the AFLC Commander, and General Skantze dealt with allegations of catastrophic spares problems associated with the Fl00 engine. Of the 108 planned 17100 spare engines for the F-15 force, General O’Loughlin said, “I have thirty-four.” Asking rhetorically “Is this bad?” he answered, “Not half as bad as in 1980 when I had thirty aircraft sitting at Robins AFB without engines at all.” The overall spares supply, he explained, is growing at the same rate as spares funding. The tactical air forces (AAC, TAC, USAFE, and PACAF) were recently able to raise their mission capabilities standard to eighty-five percent, General O’Loughlin said, adding that “many of the F-16 squadrons are at ninety-two percent.”
AFLC’s target in terms of spare engines for the F-16 is fifty-nine units of the F 100-200 type: “Yesterday, I had seventy-four, so I am over on the Dash 200s.” The F100 engine, the AFLC Commander told the AFA meeting, is plagued by a “diffuser case problem. It looks like a manufacturing flaw. We are not sure how many [engines] this will affect.” Correction of this problem is difficult because spare parts have been “subbed out” to a high degree, with the result that the prime contractor, Pratt & Whitney, “doesn’t have full control over the engine anymore [and] probably doesn’t manufacture more than twenty percent of that engine.”
General Skantze also attributed the current F100 spares problem to the excessive “breakout” of parts that “puts more vendors into the picture as well as more piece parts and [that increases the role of] small business.” This breakout requirement, he said, “has made the whole process more difficult and nearly doubled the time [it takes] to get a purchase order out.” Even before that purchase order can be issued, the process now has to contend with competition advocates and people looking for evidence of overpricing as well as the breakout criteria: “With good intentions, we have made the whole process more difficult, and we are not getting any more people” to carry the new, extra work load, according to General Skantze.
General O’Loughlin, looking at the problem in broader terms, suggested that “lots of industries want out of the defense business. They have gone on to other things because of the capital it takes to get on board” as well as the requirement to comply with a plethora of federal regulations. He predicted that key areas where this “drying up of industry” interest will adversely affect defense programs next are “bearings as well as large forgings and castings.”