Navy Strategic Systems Director: Sub-Launched Conventional Missile Distinguishable from Nuclear SLBM
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Senior Editor
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s admiral in charge of developing submarine-launched nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles and now hypersonic conventional prompt strike missiles said the two can be differentiated by a potential adversary, avoiding the danger of that adversary confusing the two and believing it was under nuclear attack.
“There is no doubt that when a weapon initially comes out of a submarine, they look very much the same,” said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe Jr., director of Strategic Systems Programs, testifying March 28 before the House Armed services Committee’s subcommittee on Strategic Forces. “Because of the difference of a hypersonic and a ballistic missile, anybody that can see it can quickly tell that they’re not the same.
“If you look at the size of the boosters, the signature is much different,” Wolfe said. “When you look at the flight profile, they quickly diverge between the two.
“Second, If you look at where we believe a conventional hypersonic [missile] would actually be deployed, it would be in a much different area than where our SSBNs [ballistic-missile submarines] deploy,” he said.
“Thirdly, there is no plan to put a conventional weapon onto one of our strategically loaded SSBNs, so you would have separation for those two [types of missiles],” he said.