The cruise missile, the new weapon President Carter intends to put aboard bombers and on the ground in Europe, would be held back from assuming a shore bombardment role under new Pentagon budget guidance.
Advocates in the Navy and the aerospace industry have been pushing the Pentagon to put the cruise missile aboard attack submarines to give the United States arsenal more punch. The cruise missile, which flies itself to the target rather than whooshing there on rocket power like the Minuteman ballistic missile, could carry either a nuclear or conventional warhead.
One idea is to put cruise missiles between the inner and outer hulls of an attack submarine rather than filling torpedo tubes with them, the original concept. This would keep the tubes available for antiship torpedoes.
But arming attack submarines with cruise missiles could complicate arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. This is one reason that Pentagon leaders are opting for the go-slow approach on the submarine-launched cruise missile.
After reviewing the Navy's budget plans for fiscal 1982 and beyond, Defense Secretary Harold Brown told the service to keep the submarine cruise missile as an option that could be exercised later, but not now.
Move the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile/Nuclear -- called TLAM/N -- down a notch in budget planning from "the basic to the enchanced band," Brown directed the Navy in discussing the submarine version of the cruise missile. Under Brown's newest timetable part of this weapon would not go into production until 1983, if then.
Other budget guidance indicates that Pentagon civilian executives have bought the idea of putting cruise missile launching tubes between the inner and outer hulls of the 688 class of attack submarines. This would be done on 688 submarines ordered but not yet built.
However, the Navy's idea of putting cruise missiles aboard surface ships as well is not going over so well.
One budget guidance document tells the Navy not to buy cruise missile launchers for destroyers.
Carter opted for the cruise missile in canceling the B1 bomber in 1977. Cruise missiles to be carried by B52 bombers initially, and possibly by specially designed planes later in the 1980s, are destined to become a mainstay in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The Carter administration also plans to base cruise missiles in Britain, Italy and West Germany to offset the Soviets' SS20 ballistic missile aimed at Europe.