The U.S. Air Force plans to conduct a review of options for modernizing its aging fleet of nuclear-armed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
The study, formally known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent analysis of alternatives, will assess approaches for replacing or upgrading the 450 Minuteman IIIs deployed in underground silos at Air Force bases in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. The Minuteman III entered service more than 40 years ago.
The Air Force has found that “while the Minuteman III currently provides a robust deterrent, it is an aging weapon system that requires enhancement, recapitalization, replacement, or development of a new capability,” the Government Accountability Office wrote in a new report on ICBM modernization.
The ICBMs are the land-based leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent, or “triad,” which also includes submarine-launched ballistic missiles and long-range bomber aircraft. Replacements for the aging bombers and submarines are also in the early planning stages.
SUBSCRIBE! To receive future articles by this writer, click “Subscribe” above. Follow him on Twitter.