The Pentagon proposed the Conventional Trident Modification program in 2006 to diversify its strategic options, as part of a broader long-term strategy to develop worldwide rapid strike capabilities, dubbed "Prompt Global Strike".
The US$503 million program would have converted existing Trident II missiles (presumably two missiles per submarine) into conventional weapons, by fitting them with modified Mk4 reentry vehicles equipped with GPS for navigation update and a reentry guidance and control (trajectory correction) segment to perform 10 m class impact accuracy. No explosive is said to be used since the reentry vehicle's mass and hypersonic impact velocity provide sufficient mechanical energy and "effect". The second conventional warhead version is a fragmentation version that would disperse thousands of tungsten rods which could obliterate an area of 3000 square feet. (approximately 280 square meters). It offered the promise of accurate conventional strikes with little warning and flight time.
The primary drawback of using conventionally-tipped ballistic missiles is that they are virtually impossible for radar warning systems to distinguish from nuclear-tipped missiles. This leaves open the likelihood that other nuclear-armed countries might mistake it for a nuclear launch which could provoke a counterattack. For that reason among others, this project raised a substantial debate before US Congress for the FY07 Defense budget, but also internationally. Then Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others, warned that the project would increase the danger of accidental nuclear war. "The launch of such a missile could ... provoke a full-scale counterattack using strategic nuclear forces," Putin said in May 2006.
Read more about this topic: Trident (missile)
Famous quotes containing the word conventional:
“The mastery of ones phonemes may be compared to the violinists mastery of fingering. The violin string lends itself to a continuous gradation of tones, but the musician learns the discrete intervals at which to stop the string in order to play the conventional notes. We sound our phonemes like poor violinists, approximating each time to a fancied norm, and we receive our neighbors renderings indulgently, mentally rectifying the more glaring inaccuracies.”
—W.V. Quine (b. 1908)