Weapon System Features
The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) first became operational in the early 1970s.
It 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 center.
A variety of communication systems provide the president and secretary of defense with highly reliable, virtually instantaneous direct contact with each launch crew. Should command capability be lost between the launch control center and remote missile launch facilities, specially configured E-6B airborne launch control center aircraft automatically assume command and control of the isolated missile or missiles. Fully qualified airborne missile combat crews aboard airborne launch control center aircraft would execute the president's orders.
The Minuteman weapon system was conceived in the late 1950s and Minuteman I was deployed in the early 1960s. Minuteman was a revolutionary concept and an extraordinary technical achievement. Both the missile and basing components incorporated significant advances beyond the relatively slow-reacting, liquid-fueled, remotely-controlled ICBMs of the previous generation. From the beginning, Minuteman missiles have provided a quick-reacting, inertially guided, highly survivable component to America's strategic deterrent program. 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 400 Minuteman III missiles located at the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota.
What We Do
While certain Minuteman components and subsystems have been upgraded over the years, most of the fundamental infrastructure in use today is the original equipment supporting more than 50 years of continuous operation.
Our experts are responsible for integrated weapons system management of the Minuteman III (LGM-30) and its components, from inception to retirement. They develop, acquire and support silo-based ICBMs, providing the single face to the warfighter, usually Air Force Global Strike Command, for acquisition, systems engineering and depot repair. This includes managing equipment spares, providing storage and transportation, and accomplishing modifications and equipment replacement to sustain silo-based ICBM systems.
They ensure the current Minuteman III weapon system will remain a reliable and effective nuclear deterrent until the system is replaced with the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent ICBM now in development.