Getting to 2030

The Air Force has “a very solid master plan” in place to keep the Minuteman III fleet viable out to 2030, said Maj. Gen. William Chambers, who oversees nuclear matters on the Air Staff. The Minuteman’s “propulsion is going to have to be addressed towards the end of this decade in order to get motors to 2030,” Chambers told the Daily Report in a recent interview. “We’ve known that for many years because of the lifespan of the last propulsion replacement program,” he noted. The Minuteman’s guidance system “is another area we are going to have to invest in,” added Chambers. He said the Air Force does not know yet if the guidance update would address just reliability issues, as did the previous upgrade, or also improve the missile’s accuracy, since this decision is still years out. “Right now, given the requirement as we know it, it could very well just be a further reliability upgrade,” said Chambers. The Air Force has already invested some $7 billion to keep the nuclear-tipped Minuteman missiles viable through 2020 as one leg of the nation’s strategic deterrent. Congress has mandated that the missiles remain viable out of 2030.