Hitting targets in well-defended airspace will require new kinds of weapons, delivering more effects and more kinds of effect per weapon, according to the authors of a new study on the Pentagon’s munitions mix. In order to win against a modern opponent, the US will have to develop new kinds of weapons, including hypersonic missiles, missiles, and decoys that deploy submunitions, “swarm” weapons that attack from different directions and in unpredictable patterns, and missiles with more powerful explosive agents, permitting smaller munitions to fly further but deliver bigger booms, said Mark Gunzinger and Bryan Clark of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in a press briefing Tuesday. Gunzinger noted the successful test of the CHAMP high-powered microwave missile, which can overfly a hardened command bunker and fry the electronics within. All these ideas are in the lab, but that’s not enough, he said. “We have S&T [science and technology] programs. We need programs,” he said. A CHAMP-based weapon could be fielded in two years if the Pentagon was serious about it, he said. There’s danger in not hurrying new weapons into the inventory, he added. “You go to war with the weapons we have, not the ones we could develop,” said Gunzinger.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.