Washington DC: The Pentagon has been sanctioned billions of dollars by the US Congress in a new $459 billion (£221.5 billion) defence spending Bill, to develop new forms of space warfare weapons, intended to counter growing risk of missile attacks from "rogue states" as well as the "satellite killer" capabilities of potential adversaries, such as China. The sanctions are indicative of the fact that the US has now begun to look past wars, as they are being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, to wars as they will be fought in the future.
The most ambitious project is the Falcon, a reusable "hypersonic vehicle" that could fly at six times the speed of sound and deliver 12,000lb of bombs anywhere in the world within minutes. Though costs of the Falcon have not been revealed, Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials have said that a first test flight was scheduled for next year.
According to analysts, the project aims to attack "time sensitive targets" in States, which have either developed nuclear weapons without international approval or are suspected of doing so. The war scenario in such cases would involve destroying targets within minutes and hours, but such capability is not feasible from current US bases.
A hypersonic vehicle launched from a base in the Middle East or Asia could be over hostile territory within minutes to destroy targets.
DARPA is also developing a small, unmanned launch vehicle that would provide "responsive and affordable" access to Space, for less than $5 million per launch. The first test flight was made in March this year. The launch vehicle would be capable of re-launching satellites that had been attacked, or act as a fast-moving replacement for a damaged satellite with intelligence sensors of its own that could identify enemy installations.
Congress awarded $150 million for the Falcon project and its associated "prompt global strike" programme. The "global strike" platform would give America the "forward presence" it requires around the world without the need for overseas bases.