US Navy tests hypersonic missile that will eventually be launched from submarines

The US Navy Strategic Systems Program and the Department of Defense this week tested a conventional (hypersonic) prompt strike capability that could one day be fielded from guided-missile submarines.

Strategic Systems Program (SSP) Director Vice Adm. Terry Benedict said on Nov. 2 that “I’m very proud to report that at 0300 on Monday night SSP flew from Hawaii [Pacific Missile Range Facility] … the first conventional prompt strike missile for the United States Navy in the form factor that would eventually, could eventually be utilized if leadership chooses to do so in an Ohio-class tube. It’s a monumental achievement.”

The admiral spoke at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium in Arlington, Va. He credited his organization for, in addition to working on the nuclear weapons that support the Ohio-class boomers and their Columbia-class replacement in development now, “we have supported the OSD AT&L defense-wide account for technology demonstration, and on our first go out of the box a very successful flight of a conventional prompt strike maneuvering reentry body.”

Four Ohio-class SSBNs were previously converted to guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) to carry conventional weapons. These four subs — or future Virginia-class attack submarines with the Virginia Payload Module that inserts additional missile tube capacity into the smaller boat — would likely be the ones contributing to conventional prompt global strike, if Pentagon leadership were to pursue the idea being tested now, the Strategic Systems Program office told USNI News.