Acting SecNav Proposes Canceling Sea-Launched Nuclear Cruise Missile
Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Harker has directed the service to defund nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM) development in fiscal 2023, according to a memo obtained by Aerospace DAILY.
The proposed cancellation is part of an exercise the Navy conducted to comply with Office Of The Secretary Of Defense fiscal guidance issued to support the military services as they develop program objective memoranda 2023 to support a future five-year spending plan, according to a June 4 memo signed by Harker.
Defunding a nuclear version of SLCM would allow the Navy to fund programs that comply with the Biden administration’s interim national security strategic guidance for programs like the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, Trident D5 Life Extension-2 program and the Take Charge and Move Out replacement. President Biden has long been a champion of nuclear arms control, and this may be a signal the administration plans to dial back the U.S. nuclear weapons posture.
The Navy requested $5.2 million for SLCM in the fiscal 2022 budget proposal sent to Congress May 28. The program was created as part of the Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The memo fails to mention the W76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead, which was also created by the 2018 NPR.
SLCM-N is not the Pentagon’s sole nuclear cruise missile development program. The Air Force is entering the engineering and manufacturing development phase for the AGM-181 Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) missile later this year.
The Air Force and Navy may develop common guidance systems for SLCM-N and LRSO. The Air Force is requesting $609 million in fiscal 2022 for the AGM-181 program.