Boeing Defense was assigned a $349-million, three-year U.S. Air Force contract to develop a preliminary design the new, ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile system. A similar, $328-million contract was placed with Northrop Grumman Corp., as the Department of Defense moves forward with plans to replace the Minuteman II ICBM, currently the only land-based missile-defense system it has in place.
"The Minuteman III is 45 years old,” stated Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein. “It is time to upgrade.”
The USAF Nuclear Weapons Center issued a request for proposal in July 2016 for development and maintenance of a next-generation, “Ground Based Strategic Deterrent” nuclear ICBM, which would be part of the “triad” nuclear-defense system.
The USAF intends for the GBSD to be phased in over a decade, beginning in the late 2020s, and projected to to cost around $86 billion over 50 years.
The Minuteman III replacement effort will include flight, command and control, and launch systems. In 2020, the Air Force will select either the Boeing or Northrop Grumman proposal as the basis of the GBSD.
“Since the first Minuteman launch in 1961, the U.S. Air Force has relied on our technologies for a safe, secure and reliable ICBM force,” said Frank McCall, Boeing director of Strategic Deterrence Systems and GBSD program manager. “As the Air Force prepares to replace the Minuteman III, we will once again answer the call by drawing on the best of Boeing to deliver the capability, flexibility and affordability the mission requires.”
Boeing’s work will be done in Huntsville, Ala.; Ogden, Utah; Heath, Ohio; and other locations.