Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is the Air Force’s preferred location for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Formal Training Unit, Acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth announced on April 1.
A final decision is dependent on an environmental impact study. Vandenberg is already the main training base for the intercontinental ballistic missile force, and GBSD is slated to replace all 400 aging Minuteman IIIs beginning in 2029. Over the next seven years, GBSD missiles would be deployed in silos in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Some 200 additional missiles would be available for testing, replacements, and development.
“The Minuteman III weapon system has been a bedrock of U.S. national security for more than five decades, but if one looks ahead to the next 50 years, the question of investing in nuclear modernization is as relevant as ever,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said in a release. “We are fully committed to the GBSD program of record, which will ensure our nation’s nuclear force is ready to meet the warfighting needs of today and tomorrow.”
GBSD will be developed and built by Northrop Grumman under a $13.3 billion contract awarded in September 2020. Northrop was the sole bidder in the competition to design a new ICBM, after its rival Boeing elected not to bid. GBSD is expected to remain in service until 2075.
Replacing the Minuteman III missiles is just one piece of USAF’s efforts to upgrade its strategic nuclear arsenal. The service is also developing a next-generation stealth bomber—the B-21—new air-launched cruise missiles, a new variant of the B61 gravity bomb, and a modern network to control and communicate with nuclear forces.