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Surgical Strike Vehicle [SSV]

The Surgical Strike Vehicle [SSV], when deployed, will hold at risk hardened or deeply buried targets. The proliferation of hardened and deeply buried targets for storage and production of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons and their delivery systems is a threat to US national security. The lack of a weapon that can hold these targets at risk has not gone unnoticed by rogue nations interested in proceeding with their weapons of mass destruction programs in relative immunity from likely -- that is, nonnuclear -- US military responses.

Few nonnuclear weapon concepts offer near-term capabilities against these underground facilities, however one Air Force concept, the Surgical Strike Vehicle, offers an interim solution with unprecedented deep penetration capability at significant standoff range.

SSV integrates existing technologies and subsystems to produce a near-term solution against hardened and deeply buried targets. SSV is a B-52H launched, rocket propelled missile systems utilizing global positioning system-based guidance for prompt, precise, and hypervelocity impact of hardened and buried targets.

SSV builds on the very successful USAF/Phillips Laboratory Missile Technology Demonstration-1 mission, which demonstrated the tightly coupled GPS navigation accuracy and successful penetration of weather granite at the White Sands missile range, New Mexico. In this August 1995 test, a simulated subscale Earth penetrating warhead was precisely delivered on target at extremely high velocity, resulting in a successful penetration of 31 feet of granite. Much higher penetration depths are possible with full-scale penetrators and higher impact velocities, which the current system is capable of delivering.

SSV is particularly suited to the high-value hardened and deeply buried target problem because it offers the following attributes:

  • global coverage from CONUS
  • promptness--10 minutes from missile launch to impact
  • significant standoff range
  • launch over international waters against likely targets
  • Precision Lethality, >1,800 pounds of penetrating warheads at optimal peneteration velocity delivers a conventional high explosive, incendiary, or other warhead into any known cut-and-cover target and many tunnel targets;
  • low probability of detection prior to impact for likely adversaries
  • immunity to air defenses or active countermeasures, jamming
  • relative affordability.

On June 28, 1996 Senator Kyle offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 1997 to make $3 million available from the $168.7 million in the Counterproliferation Support Program for the Surgical Strike Vehicle [SSV].



  • ANNEX F Common Solution/Concept List (U) Air Force Mission Area Plan (MAP) [as of 11 July 1997 - Rev 10] - Detailed and comprehensive Air Combat Command descriptions of weapon system modernization efforts required to satisfy known needs.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:36:51 ZULU