Northrop Grumman was awarded a $2.3 billion contract for the propulsion system maintenance of the Minuteman III missile system, the Pentagon announced.
The contract, which runs through 2040, calls for “sustaining engineering support and program management support services for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile [ICBM] propulsion subsystem,” according to a Tuesday night contract announcement.
It follows the announcement of a $13.3 billion contract between Northrop Grumman and the Air Force, in December 2020, for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the ICBM system meant to replace the ageing Minuteman III.
Known as the LGM-30, the Minuteman III is the United States’ only land-based ICBM in service and is an element of Air Force Global Strike Command.
It entered service in 1970, and is based on Minuteman I and II missiles which date to 1962.
“The primary focus shall be to identify aging mechanism[s], anomalous behavior, and ensure any modifications or changes tot he system which shall maintain and/or improve system-level performance,” the Defense Department announcement said in part.
The U.S. Air Force’s Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, is under development to replacement for the ageing LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM.
GBSD represents the modernization of the ground-based leg of the nuclear triad.
Earlier this month, Northrop Grumman Corporation announced the successful completion of an the Integrated Baseline Review for the GBSD engineering and manufacturing development program.
The milestone established a performance measurement baseline to keep the program on track for initial operational capability by 2029, according to Northrop Grumman.
The GBSD involves the modernization of the United States’ ground-based missile system, involving both the upgrades to the Minuteman III and the development of its replacement.
A test-firing of a Minuteman III missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. landing 4,200 miles away at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, in February 2021.
About LGM-30G Minuteman
The LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is an element of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. The “L” in LGM is the Department of Defense designation for silo-launched; “G” means surface attack; “M” stands for guided missile, the 30 stands for the Minuteman series of missile and the G after “30” is the current Minuteman III.
The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of intercontinental range. Missiles are dispersed in hardened silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center through a system of hardened cables. Launch crews, consisting of two officers, perform around-the-clock alert in the launch control center.
Minuteman’s maintenance concept capitalizes on high reliability and a “remove and replace” approach to achieve a near 100 percent alert rate.
Through state-of-the-art improvements, the Minuteman system has evolved to meet new challenges and assume new missions. Modernization programs have resulted in new versions of the missile, expanded targeting options, improved accuracy and survivability. Today’s Minuteman weapon system is the product of almost 60 years of continuous enhancement.
The current ICBM force consists of 450 Minuteman III missiles located at the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D.
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