The LGM-30 Minuteman is an American land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in service with the Air Force Global Strike Command. As of 2024, the LGM-30G (Version 3)[note 1] is the only land-based ICBM in service in the United States and represents the land leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, along with the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers.

LGM-30 Minuteman
Minuteman II
TypeIntercontinental ballistic missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service
  • 1962–1969[1] (Minuteman I)
  • 1965–1994[2] (Minuteman II)
  • 1970–present[3] (Minuteman III)
Used by United States Air Force
Production history
Unit cost$7,000,000 USD[5]
  • About 65,000 lb (29,000 kg) (Minuteman I)
  • About 73,000 lb (33,000 kg) (Minuteman II)
  • 79,432 lb (36,030 kg) (Minuteman III)[4]
  • 53 ft 8 in (16.36 m) (Minuteman I/A)
  • 55 ft 11 in (17.04 m) (Minuteman I/B)
  • 57 ft 7 in (17.55 m) (Minuteman II)
  • 59.9 ft (18.3 m) (Minuteman III)[4]
Diameter5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) (1st stage)
  • Minuteman I: W59 (retired)
  • Minuteman I and II: W56 (retired)
  • Minuteman III: W62 (retired), W78 (active), or W87 (active)
Air-burst or contact (surface)

EngineThree-stage solid-fuel rocket engines
  • First stage: Thiokol TU-122 (M-55) (178,000 lbf, 790 kN)
  • Second stage: Aerojet-General SR-19-AJ-1 (60,181 lbf, 267.70 kN)
  • Third stage: Aerojet/Thiokol SR73-AJ/TC-1 (34,170 lbf, 152.0 kN)

First stage 202,600 lb (91,900 kg) (Minuteman III)[4]
PropellantAmmonium perchlorate composite propellant
About 5,500 mi (8,900 km) (Minuteman I)[6]

10,200 km (6,300 mi) (Minuteman II)[7]

14,000 km (8,700 mi) (Minuteman III)[8]
Flight ceiling700 mi (3,700,000 ft; 1,100 km)[4]
Maximum speed Mach 23
(17,500 miles per hour; 28,200 kilometers per hour; 7.83 kilometers per second) (terminal phase)[4]
Inertial NS-50
  • Minuteman I: 1.1 nmi (2.0 km) CEP initially, then 0.6 nmi (1.1 km) CEP
  • Minuteman II: 0.26 nmi (0.48 km) CEP
  • Minuteman III: 800 ft (240 m) CEP
Missile silo
Minuteman III launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on 9 February 2023.

Development of the Minuteman began in the mid-1950s when basic research indicated that a solid-fuel rocket motor could stand ready to launch for long periods of time, in contrast to liquid-fueled rockets that required fueling before launch and so might be destroyed in a surprise attack.[9] The missile was named for the colonial minutemen of the American Revolutionary War, who could be ready to fight on short notice.[10][11]

The Minuteman entered service in 1962 as a deterrence weapon that could hit Soviet cities with a second strike and countervalue counterattack if the U.S. was attacked. However, the development of the United States Navy (USN) UGM-27 Polaris, which addressed the same role, allowed the Air Force to modify the Minuteman, boosting its accuracy enough to attack hardened military targets, including Soviet missile silos. The Minuteman II entered service in 1965 with a host of upgrades to improve its accuracy and survivability in the face of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system the Soviets were known to be developing. In 1970, the Minuteman III became the first deployed ICBM with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV): three smaller warheads that improved the missile's ability to strike targets defended by ABMs.[12] They were initially armed with the W62 warhead with a yield of 170 kilotons.

By the 1970s, 1,000 Minuteman missiles were deployed. This force has shrunk to 400 Minuteman III missiles as of September 2017,[13] deployed in missile silos around Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; and Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.[14] The Minuteman III will be progressively replaced by the new LGM-35 Sentinel ICBM, to be built by Northrop Grumman,[15] beginning in 2030.[16]

History edit

Minuteman I missile

Edward Hall and solid fuels edit

Minuteman owes its existence largely to Air Force Colonel Edward N. Hall, who in 1956 was given charge of the solid-fuel-propulsion division of General Bernard Schriever's Western Development Division, created to lead development of the SM-65 Atlas and HGM-25A Titan I ICBMs. Solid fuels were already commonly used in short-range rockets. Hall's superiors were interested in short- and medium-range missiles with solids, especially for use in Europe where the fast reaction time was an advantage for weapons that might be attacked by Soviet aircraft. But Hall was convinced that they could be used for a true ICBM with a 5,500-nautical-mile (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) range.[17]: 152 

To achieve the required energy, that year Hall began funding research at Boeing and Thiokol into the use of ammonium perchlorate composite propellant. Adapting a concept developed in the UK, they cast the fuel into large cylinders with a star-shaped hole running along the inner axis. This allowed the fuel to burn along the entire length of the cylinder, rather than just the end as in earlier designs. The increased burn rate meant increased thrust. This also meant the heat was spread across the entire motor, instead of the end, and because it burned from the inside out it did not reach the wall of the missile fuselage until the fuel was finished burning. In comparison, older designs burned primarily from one end to the other, meaning that at any instant one small section of the fuselage was being subjected to extreme loads and temperatures.[18]

Guidance of an ICBM is based not only on the direction the missile is traveling but the precise instant that thrust is cut off. Too much thrust and the warhead will overshoot its target, too little and it will fall short. Solids are normally very hard to predict in terms of burn time and their instantaneous thrust during the burn, which made them questionable for the sort of accuracy required to hit a target at intercontinental range. While this initially appeared to be an insurmountable problem, it ended up being solved in an almost trivial fashion. A series of ports were added inside the rocket nozzle that were opened when the guidance systems called for engine cut-off. The reduction in pressure was so abrupt that the remaining fuel broke up and blew out the nozzle without contributing to the thrust.[18]

The first to use these developments was the US Navy. It had been involved in a joint program with the US Army to develop the liquid-fueled PGM-19 Jupiter, but had always been skeptical of the system. The Navy felt that liquid fuels were too dangerous to use onboard ships, especially submarines. Rapid success in the solids development program, combined with Edward Teller's promise of much lighter nuclear warheads during Project Nobska, led the Navy to abandon Jupiter and begin development of their own solid-fuel missile. Aerojet's work with Hall was adapted for their UGM-27 Polaris starting in December 1956.[19]

Missile farm concept edit

The US Air Force saw no pressing need for a solid fuel ICBM. Development of the SM-65 Atlas and SM-68 Titan ICBMs was progressing, and "storable" liquids were being developed that would allow missiles to be left in a ready-to-shoot form for extended periods. These could be placed in missile silos for added protection, and launch in minutes. This met their need for a weapon that would be safe from sneak attacks; hitting all of the silos within a limited time window before they could launch simply did not seem possible.[17]: 153 

But Hall saw solid fuels not only as a way to improve launch times or survivability, but part of a radical plan to greatly reduce the cost of ICBMs so that thousands could be built. He envisioned a future where ICBMs were the primary weapon of the US, not in the supporting role of "last ditch backup" as the Air Force saw them at the time. This would require huge deployments, which would not be possible with existing weapons due to their high cost and operational manpower requirements. A solid fuel design would be simpler to build, and easier to maintain.[17]: 153 

Hall's ultimate plan was to build a number of integrated missile "farms" that included factories, missile silos, transport and recycling. He was aware that new computerized assembly lines would allow continual production, and that similar equipment would allow a small team to oversee operations for dozens or hundreds of missiles, radically reducing the manpower requirements. Each farm would support between 1,000 and 1,500 missiles being produced in a continuous low rate cycle. Systems in a missile would detect failures, at which point it would be removed and recycled, while a newly built missile would take its place.[17]: 153  The missile design was based purely on lowest possible cost, reducing its size and complexity because "the basis of the weapon's merit was its low cost per completed mission; all other factors – accuracy, vulnerability, and reliability – were secondary."[17]: 154 

Hall's plan did not go unopposed, especially by the more established names in the ICBM field. Ramo-Wooldridge pressed for a system with higher accuracy, but Hall countered that the missile's role was to attack Soviet cities, and that "a force which provides numerical superiority over the enemy will provide a much stronger deterrent than a numerically inferior force of greater accuracy."[17]: 154  Hall was known for his "friction with others" and in 1958 Schriever removed him from the Minuteman project, sending him to the UK to oversee deployment of the Thor IRBM.[17]: 152  On his return to the US in 1959, Hall retired from the Air Force. He received his second Legion of Merit in 1960 for his work on solid fuels.[18]

Although he was removed from the Minuteman project, Hall's work on cost reduction had already produced a new design of 71 inches (1.8 m) diameter, much smaller than the Atlas and Titan at 120 inches (3.0 m), which meant smaller and cheaper silos. Hall's goal of dramatic cost reduction was a success, although many of the other concepts of his missile farm were abandoned.[17]: 154 

Guidance system edit

Autonetics D-17 guidance computer from a Minuteman I missile.

Previous long-range missiles used liquid fuels that could be loaded only just prior to firing. The loading process took from 30 to 60 minutes in typical designs. Although lengthy, this was not considered to be a problem at the time, because it took about the same amount of time to spin up the inertial guidance system, set the initial position, and program in the target coordinates.[17]: 156 

Minuteman was designed from the outset to be launched in minutes. While solid fuel eliminated the fueling delays, the delays in starting and aligning the guidance system remained. For the desired quick launch, the guidance system would have to be kept running and aligned at all times. This was a serious problem for the mechanical systems, especially the gyroscopes which used ball bearings.[17]: 157 

Autonetics had an experimental design using air bearings that they claimed had been running continually from 1952 to 1957.[17]: 157  Autonetics further advanced the state of the art by building the platform in the form of a ball which could rotate in two directions. Conventional solutions used a shaft with ball bearings at either end that allowed it to rotate around a single axis only. Autonetics' design meant that only two gyros would be needed for the inertial platform, instead of the typical three.[17]: 159 [note 2]

The last major advance was to use a general-purpose digital computer in place of the analog or custom designed digital computers. Previous missile designs normally used two single-purpose and very simple electromechanical computers; one ran the autopilot that kept the missile flying along a programmed course, and the second compared the information from the inertial platform to the target coordinates and sent any needed corrections to the autopilot. To reduce the total number of parts used in Minuteman, a single faster computer was used, running separate subroutines for these functions.[17]: 160 

Since the guidance program would not be running while the missile sat in the silo, the same computer was also used to run a program that monitored the various sensors and test equipment. With older designs this had been handled by external systems, requiring miles of extra wiring and many connectors to locations where test instruments could be connected during servicing. Now these could all be accomplished by communicating with the computer through a single connection. In order to store multiple programs, the computer, the D-17B, was built in the form of a drum machine but used a hard disk in place of the drum.[17]: 160 

Building a computer with the required performance, size and weight demanded the use of transistors, which were at that time very expensive and not very reliable. Earlier efforts to use computers for guidance, BINAC and the system on the SM-64 Navaho, had failed and were abandoned. The Air Force and Autonetics spent millions on a program to improve transistor and component reliability 100 times, leading to the "Minuteman high-rel parts" specifications. The techniques developed during this program were equally useful for improving all transistor construction, and greatly reduced the failure rate of transistor production lines in general. This improved yield, which had the effect of greatly lowering production costs, had enormous spin-off effects in the electronics industry.[17]: 160–161 

Using a general-purpose computer also had long-lasting effects on the Minuteman program and the US's nuclear stance in general. With Minuteman, the targeting could be easily changed by loading new trajectory information into the computer's hard drive, a task that could be completed in a few hours. Earlier ICBMs' custom wired computers, on the other hand, could have attacked only a single target, whose precise trajectory information was hard-coded directly in the system's logic.[17]: 156 

Missile gap edit

In 1957, a series of intelligence reports suggested the Soviet Union was far ahead in the missile race and would be able to overwhelm the US by the early 1960s. If the Soviets were building missiles in the numbers being predicted by the CIA and others within the defense establishment, by as early as 1961 they would have enough to attack all SAC and ICBM bases in the US in a single first strike. It was later demonstrated that this "missile gap" was just as fictional as the "bomber gap" of a few years earlier,[20] but through the late 1950s, it was a serious concern.

The Air Force responded by beginning research into survivable strategic missiles, starting the WS-199 program. Initially, this focused on air-launched ballistic missiles, which would be carried aboard aircraft flying far from the Soviet Union, and thus impossible to attack by either ICBM, because they were moving, or long-range interceptor aircraft, because they were too far away. In the shorter term, looking to rapidly increase the number of missiles in its force, Minuteman was given crash development status starting in September 1958. Advanced surveying of the potential silo sites had already begun in late 1957.[21]: 46 

Adding to their concerns was a Soviet anti-ballistic missile system which was known to be under development at Sary Shagan. WS-199 was expanded to develop a maneuvering reentry vehicle (MARV), which greatly complicated the problem of shooting down a warhead. Two designs were tested in 1957, Alpha Draco and the Boost Glide Reentry Vehicle. These used long and skinny arrow-like shapes that provided aerodynamic lift in the high atmosphere, and could be fitted to existing missiles like Minuteman.[21]

The shape of these reentry vehicles required more room on the front of the missile than a traditional reentry vehicle design. To allow for this future expansion, the Minuteman silos were revised to be built 13 feet (4.0 m) deeper. Although Minuteman would not deploy a boost-glide warhead, the extra space proved invaluable in the future, as it allowed the missile to be extended and carry more fuel and payload.[21]: 46 

Polaris edit

The Polaris SLBM could ostensibly fill the role of the Minuteman, and was perceived as significantly less vulnerable to attack.

During Minuteman's early development, the Air Force maintained the policy that the manned strategic bomber was the primary weapon of nuclear war. Blind bombing accuracy on the order of 1,500 feet (0.46 km) was expected, and the weapons were sized to ensure even the hardest targets would be destroyed as long as the weapon fell within this range. The USAF had enough bombers to attack every military and industrial target in the USSR and was confident that its bombers would survive in sufficient numbers that such a strike would utterly destroy the country.[17]: 202 

Soviet ICBMs upset this equation to a degree. Their accuracy was known to be low, on the order of 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi), but they carried large warheads that would be useful against Strategic Air Command's bombers, which parked in the open. Since there was no system to detect the ICBMs being launched, the possibility was raised that the Soviets could launch a sneak attack with a few dozen missiles that would take out a significant portion of SAC's bomber fleet.[17]: 202 

In this environment, the Air Force saw their own ICBMs not as a primary weapon of war, but as a way to ensure that the Soviets would not risk a sneak attack. ICBMs, especially newer models that were housed in silos, could be expected to survive an attack by a single Soviet missile. In any conceivable scenario where both sides had similar numbers of ICBMs, the US forces would survive a sneak attack in sufficient numbers to ensure the destruction of all major Soviet cities in return. The Soviets would not risk an attack under these conditions.[17]: 202 

Considering this countervalue attack concept, strategic planners calculated that an attack of "400 equivalent megatons" aimed at the largest Soviet cities would promptly kill 30% of their population and destroy 50% of their industry. Larger attacks raised these numbers only slightly, as all of the larger targets would already have been hit. This suggested that there was a "finite deterrent" level around 400 megatons that would be enough to prevent a Soviet attack no matter how many missiles they had of their own. All that had to be ensured was that the US missiles survived, which seemed likely given the low accuracy of the Soviet weapons.[17]: 199  Reversing the problem, the addition of ICBMs to the US Air Force's arsenal did not eliminate the need, or desire, to attack Soviet military targets, and the Air Force maintained that bombers were the only suitable platform in that role.[17]: 199 

Into this argument came the Navy's UGM-27 Polaris. Launched from submarines, Polaris was effectively invulnerable and had enough accuracy to attack Soviet cities. If the Soviets improved the accuracy of their missiles this would present a serious threat to the Air Force's bombers and missiles, but none at all to the Navy's submarines. Based on the same 400 equivalent megatons calculation, they set about building a fleet of 41 submarines carrying 16 missiles each, giving the Navy a finite deterrent that was unassailable.[17]: 197 

This presented a serious problem for the Air Force. They were still pressing for the development of newer bombers, like the supersonic B-70, for attacks against military targets, but this role seemed increasingly unlikely in a nuclear war scenario. A February 1960 memo by RAND, entitled "The Puzzle of Polaris", was passed around among high-ranking Air Force officials. It suggested that Polaris negated any need for Air Force ICBMs if they were also being aimed at Soviet cities. If the role of the missile was to present an unassailable threat to the Soviet population, Polaris was a far better solution than Minuteman. The document had long-lasting effects on the future of the Minuteman program, which, by 1961, was firmly evolving towards a counterforce capability.[17]: 197 

Kennedy edit

Minuteman's final tests coincided with John F. Kennedy entering the White House. His new Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, was tasked with continuing the expansion and modernisation of the US nuclear deterrent while limiting spending. McNamara began to apply cost/benefit analysis, and Minuteman's low production cost made its selection a foregone conclusion. Atlas and Titan were soon scrapped, and the storable liquid fueled Titan II deployment was severely curtailed.[17]: 154  McNamara also cancelled the XB-70 bomber project.[17]: 203 

Minuteman's low cost had spin-off effects on non-ICBM programs. The Army's Nike Zeus, an interceptor missile capable of shooting down Soviet warheads, provided another way to prevent a sneak attack. This had initially been proposed as a way to defend the SAC bomber fleet. The Army argued that upgraded Soviet missiles might be able to attack US missiles in their silos, and Zeus would be able to blunt such an attack. Zeus was expensive and the Air Force said it was more cost-effective to build another Minuteman missile. Given the large size and complexity of the Soviet liquid-fueled missiles, an ICBM building race was one the Soviets could not afford. Zeus was canceled in 1963.[22]

Counterforce edit

Minuteman's selection as the primary Air Force ICBM was initially based on the same "second strike" logic as their earlier missiles: that the weapon was primarily one designed to survive any potential Soviet attack and ensure they would be hit in return. But Minuteman had a combination of features that led to its rapid evolution into the US's primary weapon of nuclear war.

Chief among these qualities was its digital computer, the D-17B. This could be updated in the field with new targets and better information about the flight paths with relative ease, gaining accuracy for little cost. One of the unavoidable effects on the warhead's trajectory was the mass of the Earth, which contains many mass concentrations that pull on the warhead as it passes over them. Through the 1960s, the Defense Mapping Agency (now part of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) mapped these with increasing accuracy, feeding that information back into the Minuteman fleet. The Minuteman was initially deployed with a circular error probable (CEP) of about 1.1 nautical miles (2.0 km; 1.3 mi), but this had improved to about 0.6 nautical miles (1.1 km; 0.69 mi) by 1965.[17]: 166  This was accomplished without any mechanical changes to the missile or its navigation system.[17]: 156 

At those levels, the ICBM begins to approach the manned bomber in terms of accuracy; a small upgrade, roughly doubling the accuracy of the INS, would give it the same 1,500 feet (460 m) CEP as the manned bomber. Autonetics began such development even before the original Minuteman entered fleet service, and the Minuteman II had a CEP of 0.26 nautical miles (0.48 km; 0.30 mi). Additionally, the computers were upgraded with more memory, allowing them to store information for eight targets, which the missile crews could select among almost instantly, greatly increasing their flexibility.[17]: 152  From that point, Minuteman became the US's primary deterrent weapon, until its performance was matched by the Navy's Trident missile of the 1980s.[23]

Questions about the need for the manned bomber were quickly raised. The Air Force began to offer a number of reasons why the bomber offered value, in spite of costing more money to buy and being much more expensive to operate and maintain. Newer bombers with better survivability, like the B-70, cost many times more than the Minuteman, and, in spite of great efforts through the 1960s, became increasingly vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles. The B-1 of the early 1970s eventually emerged with a price tag around $200 million (equivalent to $600 million in 2023)[24] while the Minuteman IIIs built during the 1970s cost only $7 million ($30 million in 2023).[citation needed]

The Air Force countered that having a variety of platforms complicated the defense; if the Soviets built an effective anti-ballistic missile system of some sort, the ICBM and SLBM fleet might be rendered useless, while the bombers would remain. This became the nuclear triad concept, which survives into the present. Although this argument was successful, the number of manned bombers has been repeatedly cut and the deterrent role increasingly passed to missiles.[25]

Minuteman I (LGM-30A/B or SM-80/HSM-80A) edit

See also W56 Warhead

Deployment edit

The LGM-30A Minuteman I was first test-fired on 1 February 1961 at Cape Canaveral,[26][27][28][29] and entered into the Strategic Air Command's arsenal in 1962. After the first batch of Minuteman I's were fully developed and ready for stationing, the United States Air Force (USAF) had originally decided to put the missiles at Vandenberg AFB in California, but before the missiles were set to officially be moved there it was discovered that this first set of Minuteman missiles had defective boosters which limited their range from their initial 6,300 miles (10,100 km) to 4,300 miles (6,900 km). This defect would cause the missiles to fall short of their targets if launched over the North Pole as planned. The decision was made to station the missiles at Malmstrom AFB in Montana instead.[27] These changes would allow the missiles, even with their defective boosters, to reach their intended targets in the case of a launch.[30]

The "improved" LGM-30B Minuteman I became operational at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, Minot AFB, North Dakota, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and Whiteman AFB, Missouri, in 1963 and 1964. All 800 Minuteman I missiles were delivered by June 1965. Each of the bases had 150 missiles emplaced; F.E. Warren had 200 of the Minuteman IB missiles. Malmstrom had 150 of the Minuteman I, and about five years later added 50 of the Minuteman II similar to those installed at Grand Forks AFB, ND.

Specifications edit

The Minuteman I's length varied based on which variation one was to look at. The Minuteman I/A had a length of 53 ft 8 in (16.36 m) and the Minuteman I/B had a length of 55 ft 11 in (17.04 m). The Minuteman I weighed roughly 65,000 lb (29,000 kg), had an operational range of 5,500 mi (8,900 km)[6] with an accuracy of about 1.5 mi (2.4 km).[30][31][32]

Guidance edit

The Minuteman I Autonetics D-17 flight computer used a rotating air bearing magnetic disk holding 2,560 "cold-stored" words in 20 tracks (write heads disabled after program fill) of 24 bits each and one alterable track of 128 words. The time for a D-17 disk revolution was 10 ms. The D-17 also used a number of short loops for faster access to intermediate results storage. The D-17 computational minor cycle was three disk revolutions or 30 ms. During that time all recurring computations were performed. For ground operations, the inertial platform was aligned and gyro correction rates updated.

During a flight, filtered command outputs were sent by each minor cycle to the engine nozzles. Unlike modern computers, which use descendants of that technology for secondary storage on hard disk, the disk was the active computer memory. The disk storage was considered hardened to radiation from nearby nuclear explosions, making it an ideal storage medium. To improve computational speed, the D-17 borrowed an instruction look-ahead feature from the Autonetics-built Field Artillery Data Computer (M18 FADAC) that permitted simple instruction execution every word time.

Warhead edit

At its introduction into service in 1962, Minuteman I was fitted with the W59 warhead with a yield of 1 Mt. Production for the W56 warhead with a 1.2 Mt yield began in March 1963 and W59 production was ended in July 1963 with a production run of only 150 warheads before being retired in June 1969. The W56 would continue production until May 1969 with a production run of 1000 warheads. Mods 0 to 3 were retired by September 1966 and the Mod 4 version would remain in service until the 1990s.[33]

It's not clear exactly why the W59 was replaced by the W56 after deployment but issues with "... one-point safety" and "performance under aged conditions" were cited in a 1987 congressional report regarding the warhead.[34] Chuck Hansen alleged that all weapons sharing the "Tsetse" nuclear primary design including the W59 suffered from a critical one-point safety issue and suffered premature tritium aging issues that needed to be corrected after entry into service.[35]

Minuteman II (LGM-30F) edit

See also W56 warhead
The guidance system of the Minuteman II was much smaller due to the use of integrated circuits. The inertial platform is in the top bay.

The LGM-30F Minuteman II was an improved version of the Minuteman I missile. Its first test launch took place on September 24, 1964. Development on the Minuteman II began in 1962 as the Minuteman I entered the Strategic Air Command's nuclear force. Minuteman II production and deployment began in 1965 and completed in 1967. It had an increased range, greater throw weight and guidance system with better azimuthal coverage, providing military planners with better accuracy and a wider range of targets. Some missiles also carried penetration aids, allowing the higher probability of kill against Moscow's anti-ballistic missile system. The payload consisted of a single Mk-11C reentry vehicle containing a W56 nuclear warhead with a yield of 1.2 megatons of TNT (5 PJ).

Specifications edit

The Minuteman II had a length of 57 ft 7 in (17.55 m), weighed roughly 73,000 lb (33,000 kg), had an operational range of 6,300 mi (10,200 km)[36] with an accuracy of about 1 mi (1.6 km).[30][31]

The major new features provided by Minuteman II were:

  • An improved first-stage motor to increase reliability.
  • A novel, single, fixed nozzle with liquid injection thrust vector control on a larger second-stage motor to increase missile range. Additional motor improvements to increase reliability.
  • An improved guidance system (the D-37 flight computer), incorporating microchips and miniaturized discrete electronic parts. Minuteman II was the first program to make a major commitment to these new devices. Their use made possible multiple target selection, greater accuracy and reliability, a reduction in the overall size and weight of the guidance system, and an increase in the survivability of the guidance system in a nuclear environment. The guidance system contained 2,000 microchips made by Texas Instruments.
  • A penetration aids system to camouflage the warhead during its reentry into an enemy environment. In addition, the Mk-11C reentry vehicle incorporated stealth features to reduce its radar signature and make it more difficult to distinguish from decoys. The Mk-11C was no longer made of titanium for this and other reasons.[37]
  • A larger warhead in the reentry vehicle to increase kill probability.

System modernization was concentrated on launch facilities and command and control facilities. This provided decreased reaction time and increased survivability when under nuclear attack. Final changes to the system were performed to increase compatibility with the expected LGM-118A Peacekeeper. These newer missiles were later deployed into modified Minuteman silos.

The Minuteman II program was the first mass-produced system to use a computer constructed from integrated circuits (the Autonetics D-37C). The Minuteman II integrated circuits were diode–transistor logic and diode logic made by Texas Instruments. The other major customer of early integrated circuits was the Apollo Guidance Computer, which had similar weight and ruggedness constraints. The Apollo integrated circuits were resistor–transistor logic made by Fairchild Semiconductor. The Minuteman II flight computer continued to use rotating magnetic disks for primary storage. The Minuteman II included diodes by Microsemi Corporation.[38]

Minuteman III (LGM-30G) edit

Minuteman III
Side view of Minuteman III ICBM
Airmen work on a Minuteman III's multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) system. Current missiles carry a single warhead.
See also W62 warhead

The LGM-30G Minuteman III program started in 1966 and included several improvements over the previous versions. Its first test launch took place on August 16, 1968. It was first deployed in 1970. Most modifications related to the final stage and reentry system (RS). The final (third) stage was improved with a new fluid-injected motor, giving finer control than the previous four-nozzle system. Performance improvements realized in Minuteman III include increased flexibility in reentry vehicle (RV) and penetration aids deployment, increased survivability after a nuclear attack, and increased payload capacity. The missile retains a gimballed inertial navigation system.

Minuteman III originally contained the following distinguishing features:

  • Armed with up to three W62 Mk-12 warheads, having a yield of only 170 kilotons TNT, instead of previous W56's yield of 1.2 megatons.[39][40][41]
  • It was the first[42] missile equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV). A single missile was then able to target three separate locations. This was an improvement from the Minuteman I and Minuteman II models, which were able to carry only one large warhead.
    • An RS capable of deploying, in addition to the warheads, penetration aids such as chaff and decoys.
    • Minuteman III introduced in the post-boost-stage ("bus") an additional liquid-fuel propulsion system rocket engine (PSRE) that is used to slightly adjust the trajectory. This enables it to dispense decoys or – with MIRV – dispense individual RVs to separate targets. For the PSRE it uses the bipropellant Rocketdyne RS-14 engine.
  • The Hercules M57 third stage of Minuteman I and Minuteman II had thrust termination ports on the sides. These ports, when opened by detonation of shaped charges, reduced the chamber pressure so abruptly that the interior flame was blown out. This allowed a precisely timed termination of thrust for targeting accuracy. The larger Minuteman III third-stage motor also has thrust termination ports although the final velocity is determined by PSRE.
  • A fixed nozzle with a liquid injection thrust vector control system on the new third-stage motor (similar to the second-stage Minuteman II nozzle) additionally increased range.
  • A flight computer (Autonetics D37D) with larger disk memory and enhanced capability.
    • A Honeywell HDC-701 flight computer which employed non-destructive readout plated-wire memory instead of rotating magnetic disk for primary storage was developed as a backup for the D37D but was never adopted.
    • The Guidance Replacement Program, initiated in 1993, replaced the disk-based D37D flight computer with a new one that uses radiation-resistant semiconductor RAM.

The Minuteman III missiles use D-37D computers and complete the 1,000 missile deployment of this system. The initial cost of these computers range from about $139,000 (D-37C) to $250,000 (D-17B).

Minuteman III MIRV launch sequence:
1. The missile launches out of its silo by firing its 1st-stage boost motor (A).
2. About 60 seconds after launch, the 1st stage drops off and the 2nd-stage motor (B) ignites. The missile shroud (E) is ejected.
3. About 120 seconds after launch, the 3rd-stage motor (C) ignites and separates from the 2nd stage.
4. About 180 seconds after launch, 3rd-stage thrust terminates and the Post-Boost Vehicle (D) separates from the rocket.
5. The Post-Boost Vehicle maneuvers itself and prepares for re-entry vehicle (RV) deployment.
6. The RVs, as well as decoys and chaff, are deployed during back away.
7. The RVs and chaff re-enter the atmosphere at high speeds and are armed in flight.
8. The nuclear warheads initiate, either as air bursts or ground bursts.

The existing Minuteman III missiles have been further improved over the decades in service, with more than $7 billion spent in the 2010s to upgrade the 450 missiles.[43]

Specifications edit

The Minuteman III has a length of 59.9 ft (18.3 m),[4] weighs 79,432 lb (36,030 kg),[4] an operational range of 8,700 mi (14,000 km),[8] and an accuracy of about 800 ft (240 m).[30][31]

W78 warhead edit

In December 1979 the higher-yield W78 warhead (335–350 kilotons) began replacing a number of the W62s deployed on the Minuteman IIIs.[44] These were delivered in the Mark 12A reentry vehicle. A small, unknown number of the previous Mark 12 RVs were retained operationally, however, to maintain a capability to attack more-distant targets in the south-central Asian republics of the USSR (the Mark 12 RV weighed slightly less than the Mark 12A).

Guidance Replacement Program edit

The Guidance Replacement Program replaces the NS20A Missile Guidance Set with the NS50 Missile Guidance Set. The newer system extends the service life of the Minuteman missile beyond the year 2030 by replacing aging parts and assemblies with current, high reliability technology while maintaining the current accuracy performance. The replacement program was completed 25 February 2008.[45]

Propulsion Replacement Program edit

Beginning in 1998 and continuing through 2009,[46] the Propulsion Replacement Program extends the life and maintains the performance by replacing the old solid propellant boosters (downstages).

Single Reentry Vehicle edit

The Single Reentry Vehicle modification enabled the United States ICBM force to abide by the now-voided START II treaty requirements by reconfiguring Minuteman III missiles from three reentry vehicles down to one. Though it was eventually ratified by both parties, START II never entered into force and was essentially superseded by follow-on agreements such as SORT and New START, which do not limit MIRV capability. Minuteman III remains fitted with a single warhead due to the warhead limitations in New START.

Safety Enhanced Reentry Vehicle edit

Beginning in 2005, Mk-21/W87 RVs from the deactivated Peacekeeper missile were replaced on the Minuteman III force under the Safety Enhanced Reentry Vehicle (SERV) program. The older W78 did not have many of the safety features of the newer W87, such as insensitive high explosives, as well as more advanced safety devices. In addition to implementing these safety features in at least a portion of the future Minuteman III force, the decision to transfer W87s onto the missile was based on two features that improved the targeting capabilities of the weapon: more fuzing options which allowed for greater targeting flexibility, and the most accurate reentry vehicle available, which provided a greater probability of damage to the designated targets.

Deployment edit

The Minuteman III missile entered service in 1970, with weapon systems upgrades included during the production run from 1970 to 1978 to increase accuracy and payload capacity. As of September 2019, the USAF plans to operate it until 2030.[47]

The LGM-118A Peacekeeper (MX) ICBM, which was to have replaced the Minuteman, was retired in 2005 as part of START II.

A total of 450 LGM-30G missiles are emplaced at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming (90th Missile Wing), Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota (91st Missile Wing), and Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana (341st Missile Wing). All Minuteman I and Minuteman II missiles have been retired. The United States prefers to keep its MIRV deterrents on submarine-launched Trident Nuclear Missiles[48] In 2014, the Air Force decided to put fifty Minuteman III silos into "warm" unarmed status, taking up half of the 100 slots in America's allowable nuclear reserve. These can be reloaded in the future if necessary.[49]

Testing edit

A Minuteman III missile in its silo

Minuteman III missiles are regularly tested with launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base in order to validate the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system, as well as to support the system's primary purpose, nuclear deterrence.[50] The safety features installed on the Minuteman III for each test launch allow the flight controllers to terminate the flight at any time if the systems indicate that its course may take it unsafely over inhabited areas.[51] Since these flights are for test purposes only, even terminated flights can send back valuable information to correct a potential problem with the system.

The 576th Flight Test Squadron is responsible for planning, preparing, conducting, and assessing all ICBM ground and flight tests.

Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) edit

The Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) is an integral part of the Minuteman ICBM command and control system and provides a survivable launch capability for the Minuteman ICBM force if ground-based launch control centers (LCCs) are destroyed.

When the Minuteman ICBM was first placed on alert, the Soviet Union did not have the number of weapons, accuracy, nor significant nuclear yield to completely destroy the Minuteman ICBM force during an attack. However, starting in the mid-1960s, the Soviets began to gain parity with the US and potentially had the capability to target and successfully attack the Minuteman force with an increased number of ICBMs that had greater yields and accuracy than were previously available.[52]: 13 

Studying the problem, SAC realized that in order to prevent the US from launching all 1,000 Minuteman ICBMs, the Soviets did not have to target all 1,000 Minuteman missile silos. The Soviets needed to launch only a disarming decapitation strike against the 100 Minuteman LCCs – the command and control sites – in order to prevent the launch of all Minuteman ICBMs. Even though the Minuteman ICBMs would have been left unscathed in their missile silos following an LCC decapitation strike, the Minuteman missiles could not be launched without a command and control capability.[52]: 13 

In other words, the Soviets needed only 100 warheads to eliminate command and control of the Minuteman ICBMs. Even if the Soviets chose to expend two to three warheads per LCC for assured damage expectancy, the Soviets would have had to expend only up to 300 warheads to disable the Minuteman ICBM force – far less than the total number of Minuteman silos. The Soviets could have then used the remaining warheads to strike other targets they chose.[52]: 13 

An Airborne Missileer operating Common ALCS on board an EC-135A ALCC

Faced with only a few Minuteman LCC targets, the Soviets could have concluded that the odds of being successful in a Minuteman LCC decapitation strike were higher with less risk than it would have been having to face the almost insurmountable task of successfully attacking and destroying 1000 Minuteman silos and 100 Minuteman LCCs to ensure Minuteman was disabled. This theory motivated SAC to design a survivable means to launch Minuteman, even if all the ground-based command and control sites were destroyed.[52]: 13 

After thorough testing and modification of EC-135 command post aircraft, the ALCS demonstrated its capability on 17 April 1967 by launching an ERCS configured Minuteman II out of Vandenberg AFB, CA. Afterward, ALCS achieved Initial Operational Capability on 31 May 1967. From that point on, airborne missileers stood alert with ALCS-capable EC-135 aircraft for several decades. All Minuteman ICBM Launch Facilities were modified and built to have the capability to receive commands from ALCS. With ALCS standing alert around-the-clock, the Soviets could no longer successfully launch a Minuteman LCC decapitation strike. Even if the Soviets attempted to do so, EC-135s equipped with the ALCS could fly overhead and launch the remaining Minuteman ICBMs in retaliation.[52]: 14 

With the ALCS on alert, the Soviet war planning was complicated by forcing them to target not only the 100 LCCs, but also the 1,000 silos with more than one warhead in order to guarantee destruction. This would have required upwards of 3,000 warheads to complete such an attack. The odds of being successful in such an attack on the Minuteman ICBM force would have been extremely low.[52]: 14 

The ALCS is operated by airborne missileers from the Air Force Global Strike Command's (AFGSC) 625th Strategic Operations Squadron (STOS) and United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). The weapon system is also located on board the United States Navy's E-6B Mercury. The ALCS crews are integrated into the battle staff of the USSTRATCOM "Looking Glass" Airborne Command Post (ABNCP) and are on alert around-the-clock.[53] Although the Minuteman ICBM force has been reduced since the end of the Cold War, the ALCS continues to act as a force multiplier by ensuring that some enemy cannot launch a successful Minuteman LCC decapitation strike.

Other roles edit

Mobile Minuteman edit

Some effort was given to a mobile version of Minuteman to improve its survivability, but this was later cancelled.

Mobile Minuteman was a program for rail-based ICBMs to help increase survivability and for which the USAF released details on 12 October 1959. Minuteman Mobility Test Trains were first exercised from 20 June to 27 August 1960 at Hill Air Force Base, and the 4062nd Strategic Missile Wing (Mobile) was organized 1 December 1960. It was planned to include three missile train squadrons, each with 10 trains carrying 3 missiles per train. During the Kennedy/McNamara force reductions, the Department of Defense announced "that it has abandoned the plan for a mobile Minuteman ICBM. The concept called for 600 to be placed in service—450 in silos and 150 on special trains, each train carrying 5 missiles."[54] Kennedy announced on 18 March 1961 that the 3 squadrons were to be replaced with "fixed-base squadrons",[55] and Strategic Air Command discontinued the 4062nd Strategic Missile Wing on 20 February 1962.

Air Mobile Feasibility Demonstration – 24 October 1974

Air-Launched ICBM edit

Air-Launched ICBM was a STRAT-X proposal in which SAMSO (Space & Missile Systems Organization) successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility Test that airdropped a Minuteman 1b from a C-5A Galaxy aircraft from 20,000 ft (6,100 m) over the Pacific Ocean. The missile fired at 8,000 ft (2,400 m), and the 10-second engine burn carried the missile to 20,000 feet again before it dropped into the ocean. Operational deployment was discarded due to engineering and security difficulties, and the capability was a negotiating point in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.[56]

Emergency Rocket Communications System (ERCS) edit

From 1963 through 1991, the National Command Authority communication relay system included the Emergency Rocket Communication System (ERCS). Specially designed rockets called BLUE SCOUT carried radio-transmitting payloads high above the continental United States, to relay messages to units within line-of-sight. In the event of a nuclear attack, ERCS payloads would relay pre-programmed messages giving the "go-order" to SAC units.

BLUE SCOUT launch sites were located at Wisner, West Point and Tekamah, Nebraska. These locations were vital for ERCS effectiveness due to their centralized position in the US, within range of all missile complexes. In 1968, ERCS configurations were placed on the top of modified Minuteman II ICBMs (LGM-30Fs) under the control of the 510th Strategic Missile Squadron located at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

The Minuteman ERCS may have been assigned the designation LEM-70A.[57]

Satellite launching role edit

The U.S. Air Force has considered using some decommissioned Minuteman missiles in a satellite launching role. These missiles would be stored in silos, for launch upon short notice. The payload would be variable and would have the ability to be replaced quickly. This would allow a surge capability in times of emergency.

During the 1980s, surplus Minuteman missiles were used to power the Conestoga rocket produced by Space Services Inc. of America. It was the first privately funded rocket, but saw only three flights and was discontinued due to a lack of business. More recently, converted Minuteman missiles have been used to power the Minotaur line of rockets produced by Orbital Sciences (nowadays Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems).

Ground and air launch targets edit

L-3 Communications is currently using SR-19 SRBs, Minuteman II Second Stage Solid Rocket Boosters, as delivery vehicles for a range of different re-entry vehicles as targets for the THAAD and ASIP interceptor missile programs as well as radar testing.

Operators edit

The connectivity of the 91st MW Missile Field

  United States: The United States Air Force has been the only operator of the Minuteman ICBM weapons system, currently with three operational wings and one test squadron operating the LGM-30G. The active inventory in FY 2009 is 450 missiles and 45 Missile Alert Facilities (MAF).

Operational units edit

The basic tactical unit of a Minuteman wing is the squadron, consisting of five flights. Each flight consists of ten unmanned launch facilities (LFs) which are remotely controlled by a manned launch control center (LCC). A two-officer crew is on duty in the LCC, typically for 24 hours. The five flights are interconnected and status from any LF may be monitored by any of the five LCCs. Each LF is located at least three nautical miles (5.6 km) from any LCC.

Control does not extend outside the squadron (thus the 319th Missile Squadron's five LCCs cannot control the 320th Missile Squadron's 50 LFs even though they are part of the same Missile Wing). Each Minuteman wing is assisted logistically by a nearby Missile Support Base (MSB). If the ground-based LCCs are destroyed or incapacitated, the Minuteman ICBMs can be launched by airborne missileers utilizing the Airborne Launch Control System.

Active edit

Active LGM-30 Minuteman deployments, 2010

Historical edit

Support edit

Replacement edit

A request for proposal for development and maintenance of a Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) next-generation nuclear ICBM, was made by the US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, ICBM Systems Directorate, GBSD Division on 29 July 2016. The GBSD would replace MMIII in the land-based portion of the US Nuclear Triad.[70] The new missile to be phased in over a decade from the late 2020s are estimated over a fifty-year life cycle to cost around $86 billion. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman were competing for the contract.[71]

On 21 August 2017, the US Air Force awarded 3-year development contracts to Boeing and Northrop Grumman, for $349 million and $329 million, respectively.[72] One of these companies will be selected to produce this ground-based nuclear ICBM in 2020. In 2027, the GBSD program is expected to enter service and remain active until 2075.[73]

On 14 December 2019, it was announced that Northrop Grumman had won the competition to build the future ICBM. Northrop won by default, as their bid was at the time the only bid left to be considered for the GBSD program (Boeing had dropped out of the bidding contest earlier in 2019). The US Air Force said: "The Air Force will proceed with an aggressive and effective sole-source negotiation." in reference to Northrop's bid.[74]

Surviving decommissioned sites edit

Preservation edit

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota preserves a Launch Control Facility (D-01) and a launch facility (D-09) under the control of the National Park Service.[75] The North Dakota State Historical Society maintains the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site, preserving a Missile Alert Facility, Launch Control Center and Launch Facility in the WS-133B "Deuce" configuration, near Cooperstown, North Dakota.[76]

Comparable missiles edit

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ The letter "L" in "LGM" indicates that the missile is silo-launched; the "G" indicates that it is designed to attack ground targets; the "M" indicates that it is a guided missile.
  2. ^ A third gyro was later added for other reasons.[17]: 159 

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ "Minuteman I".
  2. ^ "Minuteman II".
  3. ^ "Minuteman III".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Minuteman III". Center for Strategic and International Studies. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  5. ^ "LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM - United States Nuclear Forces".
  6. ^ a b Pike, John (29 May 1997). "LGM-30A/B Minuteman I". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 28 December 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  7. ^ Sandia Weapon Review: Nuclear Weapon Characteristics Handbook (PDF) (Report). Sandia National Labs. September 1990. p. 65. SAND90-1238.
  8. ^ a b Sandia Weapon Review: Nuclear Weapon Characteristics Handbook, p. 74.
  9. ^ "Missiles & Other WMD Delivery Systems". NTI. For military applications, solid propellants are advantageous because missiles don't need to be fueled immediately prior to launch and are thus always combat ready. Many liquid propellants are difficult to store and transport safely, making it impossible to keep missiles pre-loaded with fuel. Consequently, liquid propellant missiles require a long fueling process before they can be launched.
  10. ^ Bott, Mitch (21 September 2009). "Unique and Complementary Characteristics of the U.S. ICBM and SLBM Weapon Systems" (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 76. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019. The name of the Minuteman missile refers to the ability to launch the missile within minutes after receipt of a valid launch order
  11. ^ Bott, Mitch; Griffin, Chris; Gupta, Shalini; Jeffery, Jared; Schilling, Troy; Suarez, Vivian (6 August 2009). "Discussion of the Unique and Complementary Characteristics of the ICBM and SLBM Weapon Systems" (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019. Missiles can be launched within minutes after receipt of order
  12. ^ "The Minuteman III ICBM". 7 October 1997. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019. The Minuteman III was the world's first MIRV'ed ICBM. A MIRV (multiple independent re-entry vehicles) permits each missile to carry multiple warheads, and direct each one at a separate target.
  13. ^ Norris, Robert S.; Kristensen, Hans M. (27 November 2015). "U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2009". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 65 (2). Taylor & Francis: 59–69. doi:10.2968/065002008. eISSN 1938-3282. ISSN 0096-3402. LCCN 48034039. OCLC 470268256. This reduction is in line with the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review that established the goal of an ICBM force of "450/500 Minuteman III missiles, each carrying a single warhead," though the air force was not ordered to implement the decision until the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review.
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  19. ^ Teller, Edward; Shoolery, Judith (1 October 2001). Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics (1st ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing. pp. 420–421. ISBN 978-0-7382-0532-8. OCLC 879383489. OL 7899496M. Retrieved 22 November 2019 – via Internet Archive.
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  24. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 30 November 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the MeasuringWorth series.
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  26. ^ "U.S. scores third major space success". The Bend Bulletin. Vol. 58, no. 49. United Press International. 1 February 1961. Retrieved 23 November 2019 – via Google News Archive. The Air Force today fires a Minuteman intercontinental missile to a target 4,200 miles down the Atlantic Range in a successful "go for broke" test of the new rocket.
  27. ^ a b "Minuteman Missile Fired Successfully". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. 2 February 1961. Retrieved 23 November 2019 – via Google News Archive. The United States took a giant step toward pushbutton warfare capability Wednesday when a Minuteman missile streaked 4,000 miles down the Atlantic Range in a spectacularly successful first flight test.
  28. ^ Cleary, Mark C. "Ch. III §8: The 6555th's Role in the Development of Ballistic Missiles". The 6555th: Missile and Space Launches Through 1970 (Monograph). Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2019. As work on Silos 31 and 32 neared completion, the first MINUTEMAN I test missile was launched from Pad 31 on 1 February 1961. The flight was highly successful, and it set a record for being the first launch operation in which all stages of a multi-staged missile were tested on the very first test flight of an R&D program.
  29. ^ "Minuteman Fired From Pit in Major Missile Success". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. 18 November 1961. Retrieved 24 November 2019 – via Google News Archive. CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - A Minuteman missile sprang from a pit Friday and streaked 3,000 miles in a major success which gave the United States a big boost towards pushbutton war capability.
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  46. ^ "ATK Awarded Follow-on Options Worth $541 Million for Minuteman III Propulsion Replacement Program" (Press release). Minneapolis: Alliant Techsystems. 27 February 2006. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2019. Minneapolis, February 27, 2006 – Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) has received contract options worth $541 million from Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) to refurbish components and replace propellant on Minuteman III Stage 1, 2 and 3 rocket motors.
  47. ^ Woolf, Amy F. (3 September 2019). U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues (PDF) (Report). Congressional Research Service. pp. 13–14. RL33640. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019 – via Federation of American Scientists. Over the past 20 years, the Air Force pursued several programs that were designed to improve the accuracy and reliability of the Minuteman fleet and to "support the operational capability of the Minuteman ICBM through 2030." According to some estimates, this effort has cost $6 billion-$7 billion.
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Sources edit

Further reading edit

  • The Boeing Corporation (1973). Technical Order 21M-LGM30G-1-1: Minuteman Weapon System Description.
  • The Boeing Corporation (1973). Technical Order 21M-LGM30G-1-22: Minuteman Weapon System Operations.
  • The Boeing Corporation (1994). Technical Order 21M-LGM30G-2-1-7: Organizational Maintenance Control, Minuteman Weapon System.

External links edit