Ars Technica points out that deep within the Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, a 462-page book, there is a section about the Air Force leveraging rocket technology to deliver massive amounts of advanced weaponry and military cargo to anywhere in the world within a short notice.
“The Department of the Air Force seeks to leverage the current multi-billion dollar commercial investment to develop the largest rockets ever, and with full reusability to develop and test the capability to leverage a commercial rocket to deliver AF cargo anywhere on the Earth in less than one hour, with a 100-ton capacity,” the document states.
The section, titled “Rocket Cargo,” does not directly refer to Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship by name, but it’s the only vehicle at the moment with the capability described by the service.
Ars Technica says the Air Force plans to invest $47.9 million into the “Rocket Cargo” project in the coming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
“The Air Force is not investing in the commercial rocket development, but rather investing in the Science & Technology needed to interface the capability with DoD logistics needs, and extend the commercial capability to DoD-unique missions. Provides a new, faster and cheaper solution to the existing TRANSCOM Strategic Airlift mission. Enables AFSOC to perform current Rapid-Response Missions at lower cost, and meet a one-hour response requirement.
“Rocket Cargo uses modeling, simulation, and analysis to conduct operational analysis, verify military utility, performance, and operational cost. S&T will include novel “loadmaster” designs to quickly load/unload a rocket, rapid launch capabilities from unusual sites, characterization of potential landing surfaces and approaches to rapidly improve those surfaces, adversary detectability, new novel trajectories, and an S&T investigation of the potential ability to airdrop,” the document concludes.
Even though SpaceX was not directly mentioned in the budget documents, we noted in October 2020 that the US military and Musk’s company were in talks about developing a 7,500 mph rocket to deliver weapons worldwide.
From a logistical perspective, if this can be pulled off, the US may have the upper hand in deploying gear for quick reaction forces in hot zones.