AFNWC celebrates 50 years of Minuteman III grit

Minuteman III 50th Anniversary LogoNuclear deterrence is the bedrock of U.S. national security, serving as the backstop and foundation of U.S. national defense and the defense of U.S. allies since 1945. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are the most responsive leg of the triad because they are always ready and can be launched within minutes.
 
The first ICBM project was started in 1951 with Project Atlas and then was replaced with the Titan I and II missiles. The Minuteman missile development began in 1962, as a replacement to the Titan missile.
 
The Minuteman missile was the first solid-fueled ICBM ever deployed and this technology brought about a revolution in missile development. Throughout history there have been four versions of the Minuteman, the IA, IB, II and III.
 
The Peacekeeper ICBM was also deployed from 1987 until 2005, but was removed from inventory in anticipation of a nuclear treaty ratification.
 
The Minuteman III has been deployed since 1970, with an originally planned service life of 10 years. A series of life extension programs have kept the Minuteman III viable as fielded until 2030, making the MMIII the oldest deployed strategic ballistic missile in the world and truly showing its grit after fifty years of service.
 
As the Air Force modernizes the Minuteman III, revitalizes the command-and-control architecture, and recapitalizes its associated infrastructure, this ICBM will be replaced by the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent ICBM, beginning in the late 2020s.
 
Today, the U.S. ICBM force consists of 400 combat-capable Minuteman III missiles that are safe, secure and effective. They are located at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and Minot AFB, North Dakota.
 
In 2020, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is celebrating 50 years of Minuteman III history. Please join us as we celebrate these monumental events starting in August, with the anniversary of the first Minuteman III placed on alert status at the 741st Strategic Missile Squadron at Minot AFB. See table below for significant events in Minuteman III history.
 
Date Historical Significance
Jan. 12, 1970 91st Strategic Missile Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, began converting its ICBM facilities from Minuteman I to Minuteman III. 
March 3, 1970 First operational Minuteman III was completed at Air Force Plant 77, Ogden, Utah.
April 14, 1970 First Minuteman III missile accepted by the 91st Strategic Missile Wing.
April 17, 1970 First Minuteman III missile emplaced in Silo LF H-02 at 741st Strategic Missile Squadron at Minot AFB.
Aug. 19, 1970 First Minuteman III placed on alert status at 741st Strategic Missile Squadron. 
Sept. 16, 1970 Successful Minuteman III launch from Cape Kennedy, Florida, as part of the Special Test Missile Project, a post-research and development (R&D) effort to evaluate the Minuteman III’s performance and accuracy.
Dec, 2, 1970 Successful Minuteman III launch from Cape Kennedy as part of the Special Test Missile Project.
Dec. 14, 1970 Last unarmed Minuteman III, now named "LGM-30G," was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida (formerly Cape Kennedy).
Dec. 29, 1970 741st Strategic Missile Squadron became the first operational Minuteman III squadron.
Dec. 31, 1970 Force modernization and emplacement completed at Minot AFB.