New START and Missile Maintenance

Under the force posture the United States is adopting to meet the ceilings for strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems imposed by the New START agreement with Russia, the Air Force will keep 50 Minuteman III ICBMs in so-called warm status. This means the service does not have to seal the silos for these missiles, which will be in non-operational status, but rather can maintain the silos. This presents an opportunity for a more centralized programmed depot maintenance process for Minuteman missiles, Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, 20th Air Force commander, who oversees the ICBM fleet, told Air Force Magazine in a June 12 interview. This setup will give the Air Force extra time to work depot maintenance issues, take missiles offline, refurbish launch facilities, and put a missile back inside the silo. The Air Force will be able to rotate its warm missile sites across the Minuteman fleet as the need emerges.