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Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

ICBMs are the land-based missile system of America’s nuclear deterrence triad, thwarting threats 24/7 and serving as the most responsive system in the triad.

Boeing has provided the reliable and resilient Minuteman ICBM to the U.S. Air Force since 1962, when the Minuteman I went on alert.

After more than 60 years of continuous alert, the Air Force will replace the Boeing-built Minuteman ICBM in the 2020s with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. Since award of a GBSD Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction (TMRR) contract Aug. 21, 2017, Boeing has worked to mature a preliminary design of an all-new GBSD weapon system for the Air Force.

Boeing is committed to keeping the United States’ current land-based strategic deterrent safe, secure and effective, and to the modernization and development of ICBM systems that will safeguard global security and stability.

Ground Based Strategic Deterrent

The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) is the Air Force’s intended replacement for the Boeing LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM weapon system, the land-based, silo-launched backbone of the deterrence triad.

Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) of GBSD will begin in 2020. GBSD deployment is expected to begin in the late 2020s, and GBSD will remain in service through 2075.

Minuteman ICBM

Since 1958, Boeing has designed and delivered the Minuteman ICBM, the nation’s land-based nuclear deterrent. Throughout more than 50 years of continuous enhancements, Boeing innovations in design, sustainment, maintenance and modernization have ensured the safety, security and effectiveness of the Minuteman system.

As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and a prime systems integrator, Boeing created, tested and delivered every Minuteman ICBM for the Air Force – more than 1,800 Minuteman-series missiles. This, while beating accelerated schedules to deliver an ICBM that has far exceeded its expected lifespan of 10 years. Decades later, Boeing remains integral to keeping the Minuteman III going strong, with an average alert rate of 99.7 percent.

Boeing supports ICBM operations at each Air Force missile wing and in several facilities across northern Utah, in Southern California, and at the Boeing Guidance Repair Center in Ohio. Program leaders have offices at Hill Air Force Base, south of Ogden, Utah, where Boeing has been located near its military customer since the 1950s.

Learn more about our ICBM heritage and the Minuteman III ICBM

ICBM Features

Silo-based Missile Systems Expertise

Silo-based Missile Systems Expertise

September 17, 2019 in Defense

Boeing has decades of proven expertise in building, modifying or transitioning silo-based ballistic missile systems – from the 1960s to today – including Minuteman, Peacekeeper in Minuteman silos, and Ground-based Midcourse Defense.

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Strategic Deterrence Triad

Strategic Deterrence Triad

September 12, 2018 in Defense

Boeing has unsurpassed expertise in designing weapon systems built to last for more than 70 years. The Minuteman ICBM has been on uninterrupted alert since 1962, as the backbone of a strategic deterrence triad that is capable, connected and ready.

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Minuteman III Weapon System

Minuteman III Weapon System

August 20, 2018 in Defense

After nearly 50 years on alert, the Minuteman III weapon system remains safe, secure and effective. At a top speed of four miles per second, the ICBM is as fast as a seismic wave.

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Every Minute Counts

Every Minute Counts

March 21, 2017 in Defense

Boeing employees assigned to Air Force laboratories at Little Mountain Test Facility in Utah repeatedly test and upgrade the Minuteman III ICBM – a weapon system designed to last 10 years that is now more than five decades old.

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News Releases

Boeing Guidance Repair Center

The Boeing Guidance Repair Center (BGRC) in Heath, Ohio, is responsible for the repair, refurbishment, test and calibration of guidance and control systems found on nuclear-capable platforms for the Air Force and Navy. BGRC also performs identical work on non-nuclear capable guidance and control systems, electronics and radio frequency systems and processors for other platforms. Boeing is the sole provider of Minuteman III ICBM repair services through 2021 and sole provider of aircraft guidance and control services through 2020.

Little Mountain Test Facility

Boeing operates and maintains the Little Mountain Test Facility (LMTF) for the U.S. Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) System Directorate at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. LMTF is a state-of-the-art laboratory dedicated for testing operations in direct support of nuclear hardness and survivability for the ICBM weapon system and future replacements. Boeing performs testing, operations and maintenance in support of this mission and various other Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) programs, military systems and aerospace products.

Boeing has supported LMTF for more than 45 years and has gained extensive experience and certifications in Radiation Effects, Electromagnetic Effects (EME), Shock and Vibration, and other environmental testing environments. Testing takes place year-round at the facility and other Air Bases worldwide, with test labs and equipment operating at or near full capacity.

The Radiation laboratories provide an entire suite of nuclear hardness testing in Dose Rate, Total Dose, X-Rays, electrical characterization, data acquisition system, and end-to-end test and engineering support. The EME labs provide a wide variety of pulse generators, computerized controllers and data acquisition system and is fully equipped to perform fully automated radio frequency, microwave susceptibility and emissions testing. The Shock and Vibration lab has a full suite of shakers and shock testers, a specialized centrifuge and ordnance labs, and multiple environmental chambers.

LMTF delivers solutions that emphasize reduced life-cycle costs, greater speed-to-deployed capability and flexibility that enables customers to reconfigure systems and capabilities to support changing missions and environments.

Quick Facts

Oct. 9, 1958 – The U.S. Air Force selected Boeing as the prime contractor and original equipment manufacturer for the Minuteman ICBM. Within a year, Boeing launched the first tethered Minuteman I mockup. Minuteman was the first ICBM to use solid rather than liquid propellant in its rocket motors, and it was smaller in size. Minuteman I could be launched more quickly than earlier ICBMs.

Oct. 24, 1962 – The first Minuteman I missile field went on alert a year ahead of schedule, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. Minuteman I achieved initial operational capability in November of 1962.

July 1963 – Minuteman II went on alert. Minuteman II deployment was complete by the summer of 1965. Boeing designed Minuteman II with greater firepower, improved range and greater targeting flexibility.

June 1968 – The first Minuteman III training missile shipped from Air Force Plant 77 — operated by Boeing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah — to Boeing in Seattle, Wash., for acceptance testing and checkout. Air Force Plant 77 was the final assembly point for all Minuteman missiles.

1970 – Minuteman III began deployment, and full operational capability was declared in April 1975. It had an expected lifespan of 10 years.

1974 – Boeing becomes a primary contractor for the operation and maintenance of Little Mountain Test Facility near Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

1980s – Boeing modified Minuteman silos for the Peacekeeper ICBM, which deployed in 1986.

August 1993 – Boeing began to redesign the Minuteman III guidance electronics to extend the service life of the missile beyond 2020. Boeing completed 82 months – or nearly seven years – of consecutive on-time or early deliveries of the upgraded missile guidance sets (MGS) to the U.S. Air Force, delivering the final upgraded MGS in February of 2009.

June 24, 1998 – A Minuteman III ICBM equipped with the upgraded guidance system completed its first successful test flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

September 2014 – Boeing received an Air Force contract to develop a new Guidance Data Acquisition System for the Minuteman III ICBM.

January 2015 – Boeing receives an Air Force contract to continue sustaining engineering for Minuteman III ICBM guidance systems.

August 2017 – Boeing receives one of two contracts to mature technologies for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.

Customer

US Flag

The Minuteman III ICBM is an element of the United States’ strategic deterrent forces under the control of U.S. Strategic Command. Air Force Global Strike Command is the force provider, responsible for organization, training, and equipping the operational units to ensure readiness.

The current ICBM force consists of Minuteman III missiles at the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming; the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota; and the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

The ICBM Systems Directorate (ICBMSD), which reports to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center within Air Force Materiel Command, is the engineering authority and acquisition agent for the ICBM force. Boeing works with the ICBMSD to sustain and upgrade the Minuteman III and provides technical assistance to ensure the continued reliability of the Minuteman III ICBM.