What is the main shared attribute of FIA, NPOESS, and Prompt Global Strike?
On the other hand, the three programs are driven to failure for different reasons.
FIA failed because it went to a contractor without the ability to meet performance, schedule, and cost requirements.
NPOESS failed because requirement after requirement was larded onto the program until there was no way it could deliver anything.
Prompt Global Strike will fail because the solution is being constrained to hypersonic cruise vehicles.
At this point, like paper rockets, hypersonic cruise vehicles have largely been formed from vaporware and unobtanium. Yes, at least one has recently flown (and flew apart) but how long have we had highly effective missiles and rockets? That’s right: a very long time.
So while it’s pretty obvious the DoD and the Air Force recognize the desirability of a prompt global strike capability, there is no political will to pursue the ICBM-based option. The conventional ICBM is the one way-ahead which could fulfill such a need in relatively short-order (months to years versus decades).
As such, the proposed hypersonic-based prompt global strike capability will be not be prompt (requiring its own rocket launch, so why not just launch a rocket instead?) and will continue to serve as an engineering sand-box.
Now sand-boxes are OK but let’s agree to call them such and not pretend they’re something else.
If a hypersonic cruise vehicle does find a way to avoid some of the major technical pitfalls which currently exist, the arms control community, Russia, and China will freak out and it’ll never be fielded anyway.