LGM-30 Minuteman III

Minuteman is a three-stage, solid-propellant nuclear deterrent ICBM housed in a survivable underground silo. Minuteman III became operational in 1970, providing improved range, rapid retargeting, and the capability to place up to three reentry vehicles on three targets with high accuracy. It is the sole remaining US land-based ICBM.

Ongoing mods include updated warhead fuses, networking, and cryptography upgrades. FY18 began the Launch Control Center Block Upgrade (LCCBU), which replaces key hardware, software, comms, and environmental control systems in the crew capsule, as well as starting new missile site security and video situational awareness upgrades. Guidance and propulsion upgrades and modernized reentry vehicles extend service life to 2030.

New efforts include developing a replacement to the current, obsolete airborne launch system fielded aboard the Navy’s E-6B Mercury aircraft. AFGSC is also undertaking Launch Control Center AEHF integration to modernize and enhance comms redundancy.

The command initially deployed 550 missiles, later reducing that number to 400 based at Malmstrom, Minot, and F.E. Warren. AFGSC reduced deployed ICBMs to a single-warhead configuration in 2014, under limits imposed by the New START agreement.

USAF awarded Boeing and Northrop Grumman technology maturation and risk-reduction contracts to replace Minuteman with a future Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) in 2017. Boeing declined to bid on full development in 2019, leaving Northrop Grumman to develop GBSD.

Minuteman III is already more than 40 years beyond its initially planned service life, and USAF expects the system will begin falling below readiness standards as early as 2026 if not replaced.

Flight-testing of a replacement fuze began in February 2019 and will culminate with the last of four test launches in 2024.

Contractors: Boeing; General Electric; Lockheed Martin; Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK).
First Flight: February 1961.
Delivered: 1962-1978.
IOC: December 1962, Malmstrom AFB, Mont.
Production: 1,800.
Inventory: 397 deployed; 261 non-deployed.
Operator: AFGSC.
Unit Location: F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; Minot AFB, N.D.; Vandenberg SFB, Calif. (test location).
Active Variant: •LGM-30G. Current Minuteman III variant.
Dimensions: Length 59.9 ft, diameter 5.5 ft. Weight: 79,432 lb.
Propulsion: Stage 1: Orbital ATK refurbished M55 solid-propellant motor, 202,600 lb thrust; stage 2: Orbital ATK refurbished SR19 solid-propellant motor, 60,721 lb thrust; stage 3: Orbital ATK refurbished SR73 solid- propellant motor, 34,400 lb thrust.
Performance: Speed at burnout approx 15,000 mph, range 6,000+ miles.
Guidance: Inertial guidance system.
Re-entry Vehicle: One Mk 21 RV; one to three Mk 12/12A MIRVs.
Warhead: One W87 or up to three W78 enriched uranium thermonuclear weapons.

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