The Future of ICBMs

The Air Force is in the “home stretch” of an analysis of alternatives on the future of the ICBM force, said the head of plans and programs at Air Force Global Strike Command. The AOA, which is slated for completion by the end of the month, will emphasize affordability and modularity for any future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), said Brig. Gen. Fred Stoss in an interview at AFGSC’s Barksdale AFB, La., headquarters. Stoss stressed the GBSD is not a follow-on missile, but a systematic approach to recapitalizing the existing ICBM force over the long term. “We are already on the front edge of GBSD,” Stoss said, noting USAF plans to begin procuring Minuteman III guidance replacement sets beginning in Fiscal 2015 that will be modular and transferrable in the event the Minuteman III is replaced. “GBSD is not just a missile,” Stoss said, it is the rocket motors, the guidance sets, the fuses, the command and control centers, and other aspects of the capability. “It is all these things, that’s what this analysis is doing. It is charting a path for how to modernize the whole weapons system,” he added. Some components, for example, will be replaced, some modified, and some could endure beyond the Minuteman III’s life span. “We have to make sure we buy the most economical and enduring option” for each part of the system, Stoss said. “We must look at this holistically.”