Defense bill provides $100M for FALCON hypersonic cruise vehicle – UPDATED

The Washington Post reports on a $100 million budget request for development of the FACLON hypersonic cruise vehicle (HCV) as part of the $459 billion defense appropriations bill.

Goal of the “prompt global strike” program, as the FALCON program is also known, is to provide the ability to deliver a conventional, precision-guided warhead anywhere in the world within two hours.

Funds from both the Navy’s Trident ICBM program and the USAF Common Aero Vehicle were taken away to support the FALCON program.

A summary of the FY 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill can be downloaded here: (PDF). It includes a $4.1bn request for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter development program, $2.4bn for the procurement of 12 F-35’s (6 for the Air Force and 6 for the Marine Corps) and a $3.1bn bill for 20 F-22 Raptors.

UPDATE: Section of the appropriations bill addressing the FALCON/Promt Global Strike (PGS) budget request:

The budget request included a total of $175.4 million for the Conventional Trident Modification (CTM), with $126.4 million in hard and deeply buried target defeat systems, PE 64327N; $36.0 million in Trident II modifications, Weapons Procurement, Navy (WPN) line 1; and $13.0 million in strategic systems missile equipment, Other Procurement, Navy (OPN) line 108. The budget request also included $32.8 million for the Common Aero Vehicle, PE 64856F.

The committee believes that a coordinated look at a variety of kinetic non-nuclear concepts is necessary to address the feasibility of a prompt global strike (PGS) capability and to review, in a coordinated fashion, technologies that would be common to such a capacity, including thermal protection, guidance navigation, and control issues. The committee recommends that the funds identified above be transferred to technical studies, support, and analysis, PE 65104D8Z, to be used to establish an integrated PGS research program. Requirements for the program should be provided by the United States Strategic Command as informed by the ongoing analysis of alternatives for PGS and the PGS technology roadmap.

In addition to the research areas mentioned above, research should include advanced propulsion, payload delivery and dispensing mechanisms, weapon system command and control, and advanced non-nuclear, kinetic, and other enabling capabilities.

The committee is aware of several potential options for non-nuclear prompt global strike, including the Army’s advanced hypersonic weapon technology demonstrator program, which is included on the Chief of Staff of the Army’s unfunded priority list in the amount of $41.7 million. The committee recommends that of the funds provided for PGS, $41.7 million be provided to begin sounding rocket and flight vehicle tests, and to support booster development for the Army’s advanced hypersonic weapon.

Other service program elements, including PE 63216F, aerospace propulsion and power technology, also include research and development areas that could be applied to the PGS mission. Included in the propulsion research and development efforts is the versatile, affordable advanced turbine engine high speed turbine engine demonstrator (HiSTED). The budget request included $2.5 million for this effort. The committee recommends an additional $10.0 million to allow the PGS effort to coordinate research and development activities with the Air Force HiSTED project.

The committee continues to believe that it is essential to maintain a bright line between legacy nuclear capabilities and any future PGS capability, and therefore recommends no funds for the CTM or other similar capability that could raise any nuclear ambiguity issues. The committee believes that PGS should be clearly and unambiguously non-nuclear.

The committee directs the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Commander of the Strategic Command, to submit a research plan for PGS for fiscal year 2008, including a funding plan, prior to initiating any PGS research.