BAE Systems has received a $72.6 million contract modification for integration and technical support for the Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, the Department of Defense announced on Wednesday.
Services include engineering, training and program management for the Minuteman III nuclear missile fleet. The work will be performed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah and is expected to be completed by July 31, 2018. The Department of Defense has obligated $22 million in Air Force R&D and operations funds for the work.
The LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is the primary ground-based element of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. They are dispersed in hardened silos with attached underground command and control bunkers manned by Air Force officers at all times.
Each missile silo has direct communications capability with the president and secretary of defense. If those links are cut by technical failures or enemy attack, airborne command and control aircraft such as the E-6B will automatically assume command.
The original Minuteman series of missiles entered service in the early 1960s and was one of the first solid-fueled ICBMs designed. It has been upgraded several times with the Minuteman III nearing the end of its service life. It’s three-stage engine gives it a range of over 6,000 miles with its exact range classified at top speed of 23 times the speed of sound.
Each missile can carry up to three multiple independent reentry vehicle warheads in the 350+ kiloton range but are currently limited to one per missile by treaty. The Minuteman III is slated to be replaced by the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent ICBM starting in the late 2020s.