LGM-30H Minuteman IV
On-going modernization will keep the Minuteman III viable until approximately 2020. The extensive life extension program replaces aging guidance and stand-by power systems, rebuilds solid-propellant rocket motors, repairs launch facilities, and installs the latest communication equipment and command and control consoles for combat missile crews. This system is safe, secure and reliable until 2020. At that time, the Air Force will move to the next stage of ICBMs -- a Minuteman IV.
The Air Force Systems Command (AFSPC) led the Ballistic Missile Requirements (BMR) Study (1998 to 2000) which documented a number of needs beyond the current baseline ICBM mission, such as extended range, trajectory shaping, strategic relocatable targets, and hardened deeply buried targets, that the next generation ICBM could address. The Land Based Strategic Nuclear Deterrence Mission Needs Statement (MNS) drew from the analysis done in the BMR study in documenting the need for ICBMs beyond 2020. To expand on the MNS and address alternatives for the follow on ICBM, AFSPC plans to conduct an analysis of alternatives in FY04 and FY05 with an IOC by 2018. This work will ensure the requirements generation process and the acquisition process remain on track for the future ICBM force.
The new missile could be dropped into current silos, or require current silos to be revamped. Work on an all-new Minuteman IV ICBM could begin as early as 2004, possibly a mobile version of the missile. The force applications team has secured SMC's role in the future missile system commonly referred to as Minuteman IV that hopes to be a $20-30 billion procurement between 2004 and 2040. New missions for the system include holding both hardened and deeply buried targets and strategic relocatable targets at risk. Concepts being evaluated for these missions may include an earth penetrator reentry vehicle or a "smart" maneuvering reentry vehicle. With respect to force applications, the Minuteman IV activity is simply the first initiative, among many, for possible future space weapon systems.
In 2002 AEDC's upgraded H2 Arc Heater facility provided heat shield material testing for the potential successor of the Minuteman III (MMIII) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The potential successor, the Minuteman IV (MMIV), is under study by the USAF Space Command (SPACECOM) as a possible next-generation ICBM system. The tests supported the Reentry Vehicles Application Program (RVAP) and the Air Force Advanced Vehicles Studies (AVS) programs sponsored by the RVAP at Hill AFB, Utah. During one test, the AEDC test team exposed multiple flow-field calibration probes to the arc freejet and exposed two prototype heat shield material samples to material surface temperatures up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit during 10- to 15-second exposure times, simulating the high-temperature and high-pressure arc jet conditions a reentry vehicle would experience upon reentry.
One option under consideration for the MMIV reentry vehicle (RV) is maneuvering capability to provide additional mission flexibility. The maneuvering RV provides significant advantages with respect to mission targeting footprint and vehicle survivability versus countermeasures. However, because maneuvering RVs can fly a variety of reentry trajectories with long glide segments, onboard thermal protection materials are subjected to extremely high total heat loads.
The H2 nozzle facility upgrade, funded by the RVAP sponsor, provides a key segment of the maneuvering reentry trajectory simulation envelope previously not available to DoD RV designers for thermal protection material development. During fiscal year 2002, the Hill AFB RVAP office sponsored a series of three nozzle calibration runs for the new H2 nozzle flow field, followed by eight test runs in H2 to evaluate preliminary candidate materials for the AVS program. During these runs, the material samples were exposed to heat loads and exposure times typical of those expected for the maneuvering RV terminal dive phase. These tests provide data on candidate heat shield material survivability and thermal insulation properties of materials exposed to the high temperatures and pressures that occur during flight at relatively low altitudes where aero thermal heating is most severe.
Prompt Global Strike (PGS)
In parallel with the Minuteman IV is another effort addressing conventional prompt global strike needs which is referred to as the Common Aero Vehicle (CAV). Air Force Space Command 2001 Industry Days was held 25-26 July 2001 at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs CO. The event is supported by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association. Sessions and tentative topics include: Space Control -- Defensive counterspace and Offensive Counterspace. Force Applications -- Minuteman IV and Prompt Global Strike.
The Advanced Missile System Division (LMX) part of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) System Program Office (SPO) sought sources for a possible five year contractor support effort for long range planning in the arena of technology advancement and future ICBM systems. The support effort included, but was not limited, to Land Based Strategic Deterrent (LBSD), Integrated Applications Program (IAPs), Prompt Global Strike (PGS), ICBM Long Range Requirements Planning Studies (ILRP) and any other LMX workload. The support sought is primarily Advisory and Assistance Support (A&AS) and System Engineering Technical Assistance (SETA) with emphasis on program objectives, acquisition program management support, systems engineering and analysis. .
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