At the end of FY 2000, the United States had 500 Minuteman III ICBMs and 50 Peacekeeper missiles. To meet the overall START I warhead limits, some of the Minuteman missiles have been downloaded to carry only one reentry vehicle (RV). Once START II enters into force, the United States will modify all Minuteman III missiles to carry only one warhead and will retire all Peacekeepers. In this transition, DoD will redeploy the Mark 21 RV, currently deployed on Peacekeeper, on a portion of the single RV Minuteman force. Mark 21 RVs contain features that further enhance nuclear detonation safety and reduce the risk of plutonium dispersal in the unlikely event of a fire or other mishap.
The Minuteman program always had the theory that each one of the missiles is at T-minus thirty seconds and holding.
The United States is not currently developing or producing any new ICBMs. However, the Air Force has begun exploratory tasks to plan for a replacement to the Minuteman III around 2020. This makes it difficult to sustain the industrial base needed to maintain and modify strategic ballistic missiles. To maintain the Minuteman ICBM system and to preserve key industrial technologies needed to sustain ICBMs and SLBMs, the budget provides funding to replace guidance and propulsion systems, as well as to preserve a core of expertise in the areas of reentry vehicle and guidance system technology.
Long-range planning for the ICBM weapon systems results from an iterative process involving personnel from all areas of the ICBM community. The ICBM Long-range Requirements Planning (ILRP) process focuses on ICBM system-specific issues derived from the Headquarters Air Force Space Command (HQ AFSPC) Integrated Planning Process (IPP) and the weapon system assessment results of the ICBM Prime Integrating Contractor. As the process is accomplished, the annual publication of an ICBM Master Plan documents the programmatic requirements which influence the early steps of the next funding cycle.
The Force Applications Division of HQ AFSPC Directorate of Requirements supports the IPP which lays the planning foundation for developing essential and affordable capabilities. Overall investment guidance is provided by this process to find the most cost-effective means of correcting identified deficiencies and fulfilling warfighter needs. A Technical Planning Integrated Product Team (TPIPT) assists in identifying key technologies required to provide solutions to the needs highlighted during this process.
Potential solutions to identified deficiencies and needs are assessed over the programming and planning horizons to prioritize solution options. Cost-effective combinations of programs and schedules are defined within budgetary constraints to meet mission needs.
The ICBM Prime Integration Contractor and the ICBM SPO participate through the ILRP process to support the IPP. The results of the IPP are documented and summarized in the Space Force Applications (SFA) Mission Area Plan (MAP). The system capabilities, priorities, and investment strategies from this process are integrated with those of the other AFSPC mission areas and documented in the AFSPC Strategic Master Plan as data for the AFSPC Program Objective Memorandum (POM) input prioritization process. Mission objectives and requirements in the SFA MAP also document the user's input to the ILRP process. The inputs help guide the ILRP process to develop long-range integrated planning and prioritization of programs for ICBM sustainment and new capabilities.
ILRP studies are performed each year to explore system options, cost trade-offs, and planning for future weapon system capabilities. From the study results, the SPO writes the ICBM System Options Report (SOR) to summarize the studies and outline options to meet mission and supportability requirements specifically for ICBMs. The SPO also writes the Logistics Programs Management Plan (LPMP), which defines the short and long-term logistics supportability programs for the current weapon systems based on requirements identified by the SPO's product teams.
Information from the MAP, SOR, and LPMP is integrated into the ICBM Master Plan, which is the summary long-range planning document. The ICBM Master Plan is updated each year to summarize the current and projected programs along with their schedule and budgetary requirements. The ICBM Master Plan captures the funding data used to develop POM inputs for HQ AFSPC, forming an orderly integration of requirements into the formal funding process.
Implementation of the programs and technology integration provided through this disciplined process ultimately provides the desired strategic deterrence and warfighting capabilities needed to satisfy national military objectives. Review and prioritization of program capabilities to meet mission area planning objectives, system options, and potential logistics program needs focus effort where "best payoff" is achieved.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|