The Real Mission of the X-37B

The USAF launched the X-37B this week amid wild and varied speculation as to its purpose, a mystery fueled by the paucity of official explanations.

Few seem to realize what I am convinced is the X-37B’s true purpose. The X-37B is the first of a sortie of Prompt Global Strike (PGS) vehicles to be placed in orbit. PGS brings all the benefits of a nuclear option without the horrific nuclear consequences. PGS can rain devastating conventional destruction anywhere within only minutes, wholly unannounced and unassailable. Other PGS vehicles are being developed and they will carry warheads larger than the 500 lb guided bomb the X-37B can deliver, but those ground launched systems would take considerably longer to deliver their ordinance.  I believe the USAF already has quite a few X-37Bs built and they merely needed to publicly announce and deploy one so that they could plausibly deny the existence of the others.

In the post 9/11 defense ramp up I did some contract work on flight software for a satellite that I was told off the record was to be used to coordinate a PGS-like system. I don’t know what became of that particular project, I was told it lost funding, but I always suspected it was really just moved farther into the shadows. Unfortunately for my curiosity, my input and access was limited to porting some existing code to run on a new RTOS, I had no cause or ability to learn what the weapons system was capable of.

I was once told by a friend who worked at CIA that they would often get good intel on where Bin Laden was and it was only their inability to strike quickly enough that prevented them getting him, he supposedly moved around so frequently that in the time it would take to get troops on the ground, a bomber in the air, a UAV overhead, or a cruise missile launched he’d have moved. I always suspected he went to CIA because of his massive ego and the power he believed the secrets he couldn’t share with others gave him. I never knew which things he said I could believe, but this seemed like one of the more believable things. He was a complete asshole most of the time, but get him a little drunk and he became quite vulnerably hilarious.


3 Responses to The Real Mission of the X-37B

  1. macproguy says:

    Wouldn’t even using tungsten or other metal rods be enough to deliver a serious kinetic punch to any target? Even if it didn’t have munitions?

    • From what I remember reading in unclassified sources years ago the system proposed was using almost all kinetic energy to create the destruction. The role of the shaped charge behind the warhead was to optionally fragment the metal projectile to create a wider (but less penatrative) area of devastation. The design was quite clever, they proposed design allowed them to designate the target and then designated the type of damage they wanted to inflict. If they were trying to get at a buried bunker they would not explode the charge and leave the projectile intact to inflict maximum focused damage. If they were targeting a military base or training camp they could set off the charge, and dial in the destruction by selecting a different height at which the charge would fire.


  2. Troy says:

    I’ve gotta admit, that (PGS) was my initial reaction to the news. Could this particular vehicle have the same/similar abilities as the bird in “Stealth”? It makes me wonder if the tests aren’t too and from LEO.

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