The United States military is in the process of reviving its 'Assault Breaker Project', an ambitious Cold War-era programme originally meant to stop Soviet armoured formations from breaking through into West Germany through a massive aerial strike.
This time, according to Aviation Week, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the organisation responsible for keeping up with US adversaries in various fields, from AI and robotics to hypersonic weapons, is reviving the project amid the alleged "emerging threat" posed by Russia and China.
According to US strategists, the original Assault Breaker was tasked with using spy planes and long-range missiles to carry out crippling strikes against "moving, rear echelon armour massed deep behind enemy lines," thereby stopping a Warsaw Pact strike and ensuring NATO superiority in the event of war.
Speaking to Aviation Week, a DARPA spokesperson explained that the Assault Breaker II concept is an "umbrella effort drawing on existing and emerging programmes across the services to address known capability gaps, opportunities and threats."
"In the same way that the original Assault Breaker programme was a concept for stunting the enemy's advances early on during a conflict, [Assault Breaker II] is designed to respond within a few hours to give an adversary pause and allow more traditional forces to flow into the area of operations," a Defence Science Board study explained.
Much like its Cold War-era predecessor, Assault Breaker II would be ostensibly aimed at destroying a Russian 'invasion of Europe'. Against China, the programme apparently envisions US bombers carrying out similar-style strikes against Chinese naval power.
DARPA is expected to submit a formal budget request to US lawmakers later this month. If approved, the Pentagon hopes the strategy will be up and running within a decade, given that most of the weapons involved are said to already be available.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned the buildup, accusing Washington of deploying missile defence shield components in Romania and Poland which it says could be used for offensive purposes. Tensions escalated last month, after Washington formally scrapped its commitment to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a landmark treaty aimed at deescalating the risk of nuclear war in Europe. In a recent address, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that if the US deploys new short and medium-range missiles in Europe, Russia would be "forced" to respond appropriately to restore the global strategic balance.