Sea based ASATs, Nixon through Reagan

Pyrrhic victory

This is going to hurt
31 January 2008
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From the Sea to the Stars said:
In the Mid 1970s, the Air Force re-initiated its ASAT program. New technology in guidance and infrared sensing allowed an inexpensive ASAT system to be conceptualized. The concept was to use F-15 aircraft to launch an existing missile, with a new second stage to loft a sensor package (about the size of a tomato juice can) with enough accuracy to intercept Soviet low earth orbiting satellites. The kill- mechanism was via kinetic energy upon impact; there was no explosive warhead. The F-15s were to be based on both East and West coasts of the United States, and upon orders to intercept, would take off and fly to a weapons release point and release the missile-all under computer control.

In parallel with the Air Force development, the Naval Air Systems Command was working with Air Force Systems Command to develop a system to launch the Air Force missile from carrier-based F-14s. This was the status quo as the CNO and his staff took up the issue of ASATs in 1982.

Over a three month period, the OPNAV staff reviewed the USAF ASAT and potential alternative concepts that included: (1) the F-14 launch of the ASAT missile and interceptor; (2) the interceptor in lieu of a nuclear warhead on a SM-2N missile launched from an Aegis cruiser, and targeted using the AEGIS weapons control system; and (3) the interceptor in lieu of the nuclear warheads on Poseidon missiles, launched from SSBNs, and targeted with the modified AEGIS system.

CNO turned down the Air Force offer to take over the air-launched ASAT program. After a determination that the ASAT mission was not part of the Navy's roles and missions.

All work on proposed sea-based launch of ASATs was also terminated at this time.
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