House committee moves to save nuclear sea-launched cruise missile

By Tony Bertuca / June 22, 2022 at 4:30 PM

The House Armed Services Committee has voted to approve an amendment to its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill that would save the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile program from termination.

The committee, via an amendment from Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), chair of the panel’s strategic forces subcommittee, would authorize $45 million for the Defense Department to continue developing the weapon, known as SLCM-N, which garnered controversy for being a low-yield nuclear weapon begun during the Trump administration.

Cooper acknowledged the “pros and cons” of deploying such a weapon on an attack submarine, but said he was offering the amendment to keep the option available for senior military leaders, many of whom have voiced support for the program.

“No one can tell in an uncertain world what we will need, but it’s important to keep this option available,” he said.

Though the Senate Armed Services Committee authorized $25 million for the program in its version of the FY-23 defense authorization bill, the House Appropriations Committee has passed a spending bill that does not provide any funding for the SLCM-N.

The SLCM-N is supported by military leaders like Adm. Charles Richard, chief of U.S. Strategic Command, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

“My position on SLCM-N has not changed,” Milley told the committee April 5. “My general view is that this president or any president deserves multiple options to deal with nation security situations.”