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27 mai 2015 3 27 /05 /mai /2015 17:20
Minuteman III test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base

26 mai 2015 by US Air Force


A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 3:37 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time May 20.

The ICBM's reentry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Every test launch verifies the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective deterrent for as long as nuclear weapons exist. The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, included Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 19:20
Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,

Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,


Apr. 8, 2014 - By JENN ROWELL, (GREAT FALLS, MONT.) TRIBUNE – Defense News


The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it will remove 50 Minuteman III missiles from its silos to meet nuclear reductions called for under an arms-reduction treaty with Russia.


The empty silos will remain in warm status, meaning they will remain fully operational and can be armed with missiles at any time.


The Air Force and U.S. Strategic command will determine which 50 missiles will be pulled from the 450 silos currently deployed across the three missile fields operated by Malmstrom, F.E. Warren and Minot Air Force bases.


The empty silos count toward the non-deployed launcher limit of 800 under the New START treaty, which was ratified by the Senate and entered force in 2011.


The determination of which missiles will be removed hasn’t been made yet and there’s currently no timeline for that decision other than the New START deadline of February 2018.


To keep all 450 silos, the military has to make other cuts to the nuclear force to meet the limits of 800 non-deployed and 700 deployed launchers.


The Navy will convert 56 launch tubes, or four on each of its 14 nuclear submarines, so they can’t be used to carry nuclear weapons. They will also remove weapons from 40 launch tubes and keep 240 armed, for a total of 280 counted toward the New START limit of 800.


The Air Force will also convert 30 B-52H bombers to conventional aircraft so that they cannot carry nuclear weapons.


The Air Force will maintain 66 nuclear-capable bomber aircraft.


Because the silos will remain fully operational, no ICBM squadrons will be cut, according to defense officials. An environmental assessment also is no longer needed.


Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Monday night that the plan is good for Montana and good for national defense strategy. He also said ICBMs continue to be the most cost-effective leg of the nuclear triad.


“Right now, for the dollars spent, the ICBMs are the most effective component,” he said. “No ifs, ands or buts about that.”


Keeping 50 silos empty at all times allows the Air Force to conduct more thorough maintenance without disrupting normal operations, Tester said. The empty sites will also continue to be secured by Air Force security units.


“[ICBMs] are still our ace in the hole, and we need to make sure that’s there so that our country has a strong defense,” Tester said. “We have got these assets, we don’t ever want to have to use them, but if we need to use them, they’re there.”

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23 septembre 2013 1 23 /09 /septembre /2013 17:20
GAO Faults USAF ICBM Modernization Plans

September 23, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Government Accountability Office; issued Sept. 20, 2013)


ICBM Modernization: Approaches to Basing Options and Interoperable Warhead Designs Need Better Planning and Synchronization

The Department of Defense (DOD) has identified capability requirements and potential basing options for the Minuteman III follow-on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and the Department of Energy (DOE) has begun a parallel study of options to extend the life of its warhead, but neither department plans to estimate the total system costs for the new missile and its warhead.

GAO’s work on cost estimating has found that a reliable cost estimate is critical to any program by providing the basis for informed decision making. The Nuclear Weapons Council—the joint activity of DOD and DOE for nuclear weapons programs—is responsible for coordinating budget matters related to nuclear weapons programs between the departments, and is engaging in an effort to broadly synchronize nuclear weapons life-extension programs with delivery-system modernization efforts, but has not asked either department to provide estimates of the total system cost. In the absence of such a request, neither department is developing total cost estimates.

Further, DOD’s plan to study ICBM follow-on options does not include the council as a stakeholder to synchronize the missile and warhead efforts to help ensure that the study considers an enterprise-wide perspective. Without timely cost estimates and updates on the status of the ICBM follow-on study, the council may be unable to provide guidance and direction on the study, or consider its implications and potential effects on other nuclear weapons modernization efforts.

DOD and DOE have prepared a long-term plan that incorporates interoperable warheads into the stockpile, and although they have begun studying the feasibility of designing such a warhead, the Navy has had limited participation thus far. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review recommended the Nuclear Weapons Council study the development of an interoperable warhead that could be deployed on both Air Force and Navy ballistic missiles, and the council has requested the Air Force, Navy, and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to commit resources to the study.

Although the Air Force and NNSA have been examining warhead concepts, the Navy has not fully engaged in the effort because (1) other, ongoing modernization programs are higher Navy priorities, and (2) it has concerns about changing the design of the warhead. The Navy’s further participation is uncertain because it has not identified the resources needed to continue with the program once the study is completed, if the interoperable warhead is adopted.

Consequently, the Navy will be poorly positioned to perform the more-detailed analyses needed to validate the approved design, potentially resulting in program delays. The Nuclear Weapons Council guidelines governing nuclear weapons refurbishments, and the corresponding DOD instruction, do not require the Air Force and Navy to align their programs and resources before beginning joint-service warhead studies. For example, DOD’s instruction states that the military departments are to develop procedures for certain joint DOD-DOE activities, but it is unclear about aligning their programs and resources with each other.

If the guidance and DOD instruction are not updated, the services may not be prepared to participate in future joint-service studies.


U.S. nuclear weapons—both the bombs and warheads and their delivery systems—are aging beyond their intended service lives. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review recommended that the Nuclear Weapons Council study options for extending the life of ICBM warheads, including the potential for developing a warhead that is interoperable on both Air Force and Navy missiles. In 2013 DOD will initiate a study to identify a replacement for the Minuteman III missile.

This report addresses the extent to which (1) DOD has assessed the capability requirements, potential basing options, and costs for the follow-on to the Minuteman III ICBM; and (2) DOD and DOE have explored the feasibility of incorporating an interoperable warhead concept into the long-term nuclear weapons stockpile plan.

GAO analyzed DOD and NNSA policies, plans, guidance, and other documents; and interviewed officials responsible for planning the Minuteman III follow-on and the warhead life-extension program.

Click here for the full report (48 PDF pages) on the GAO website.

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10 juillet 2013 3 10 /07 /juillet /2013 16:20
Northrop Grumman Supports Propulsion System Rocket Engine Test

Jul 10, 2013 (SPX)


Herndon VA - Northrop Grumman recently supported the successful test of the Minuteman III Propulsion System Rocket Engine (PSRE) at NASA's White Sands Testing Facility in Las Cruces, N.M.


The PSRE is the liquid post-boost upper stage of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This was a designated product quality assurance (PQA) test, which is a full mission duty ground static test conducted in NASA's altitude test cell.


The PQA test is performed to verify the quality of the PSRE after it is refurbished by the PSRE life-extension program (LEP).


This test represents the last of seven PQA static tests for the PSRE LEP program.


"The entire ICBM team, including our Aerojet and Boeing teammates and the Air Force, celebrate the success of this program as it comes to an end with this final accomplishment," said Tony Spehar, Northrop Grumman vice president and program manager for the ICBM Prime Integration Contract.


"These PSRE tests have ensured the reliability of the nation's deployed Minuteman fleet."


The PSRE LEP program, initiated in 2000, is managed under a joint partnership between Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force.


The program is responsible for refurbishing the entire Minuteman III fleet of PSREs and extending its service life through 2030. Upon completion of the program last month, 558 PSREs will have been delivered to the Air Force.

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6 juin 2013 4 06 /06 /juin /2013 12:20
A Minuteman III Transporter-Erector (TE) is shown on-site at launch facility A-06 - photo USAF

A Minuteman III Transporter-Erector (TE) is shown on-site at launch facility A-06 - photo USAF



Jun 6, 2013 ASDNews Source : DRS Technologies Inc.,


DRS Technologies, Inc., a Finmeccanica Company, announced that it received a $25 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for the design, development and delivery of two Transporter Erector Replacement Vehicles to support the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Minuteman III fleet. If all options are exercised by the Air Force, the total program value for up to 26 mobile vehicles under this contract could reach over $92 million.


The Transporter Erector is a vehicle used for transporting, positioning and removing the Minuteman III booster at launch facilities at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; Hill AFB, Utah; and Vandenberg AFB, California.  The current Transporter Erector used by the Air Force was fielded in 1988.  The Air Force Global Strike Command, overseeing this replacement, requires a modern and forward-looking system that will sustain booster handling operations through 2030.


Under the Air Force Transporter Erector Replacement Program, DRS Environmental Systems in Cincinnati, Ohio, will redesign and build new transport vehicles that will fully modernize the operational system.


The design and development of the first two Transporter Erectors to be used in system qualification are due to be completed in November 2015.  If all production options are exercised, 26 Transporter Erectors will be delivered to the Air Force through September 2019.


"DRS will draw upon its 40 years of experience with system engineering, design, and production of mission-critical mobile shelters and transport trailers for the military," said Roger Sexauer, president of DRS Power and Environmental Systems.  "The Environmental Systems Team has been supporting the Air Force ICBM program office for over 20 years and is committed to providing continued support to a critical part of the our Nation's strategic deterrent forces," according to Sexauer.

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