U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet
|LGM-30 MINUTEMAN III
Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is an element of
the nation's strategic deterrent forces. The "L" in LGM ;is the
Department of Defense designation for silo-launched; "G" means
surface attack; and "M" stands for guided missile.
Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of
intercontinental range. Missiles are dispersed in hardened silos to
protect against attack and connected to an underground launch
control center through a system of hardened cables. Launch crews,
consisting of two officers, perform around-the-clock alert in the
launch control center.
A variety of communication systems
provide the president and secretary of defense with highly reliable,
virtually instantaneous direct contact with each launch crew. Should
command capability be lost between the launch control center and
remote missile launch facilities, specially configured E-6B airborne
launch control center aircraft automatically assume command and
control of the isolated missile or missiles. Fully qualified
airborne missile combat crews aboard airborne launch control center
aircraft would execute the president's orders.
life extension program is under way to keep the missiles safe,
secure and reliable well into the 21st century. These major programs
include: replacement of the aging guidance system, remanufacture of
the solid-propellant rocket motors, replacement of standby power
systems, repair of launch facilities, and installation of updated,
survivable communications equipment, and new command and control
consoles to enhance immediate communications.
Minuteman weapon system was conceived in the late 1950s and
Minuteman I was deployed in the early 1960s. Minuteman was a
revolutionary concept and an extraordinary technical achievement.
Both the missile and basing components incorporated significant
advances beyond the relatively slow-reacting, liquid-fueled,
remotely-controlled intercontinental ballistic missiles of the
previous generation. From the beginning, Minuteman missiles have
provided a quick-reacting, inertially guided, highly survivable
component to America's nuclear Triad. Minuteman's maintenance
concept capitalizes on high reliability and a "remove and replace"
approach to achieve a near 100 percent alert rate.
state-of-the-art improvements, the Minuteman system has evolved to
meet new challenges and assume new missions. Modernization programs
have resulted in new versions of the missile, expanded targeting
options, improved accuracy and survivability. Today's Minuteman
weapon system is the product of almost 40 years of continuous
The current Minuteman force consists of 500
Minuteman III's located at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.,
Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and Minot AFB, N.D. The last round of base
realignment and closing decisions has forced a realignment of
Minuteman missiles from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., to Malmstrom
Function: Intercontinental ballistic
Contractor: Boeing Co.
Three solid-propellant rocket motors; first stage - Thiokol; second
stage - Aerojet-General; third stage - United Technologies Chemical
Length: 59.9 feet (18
Weight: 79,432 pounds (32,158
Diameter: 5.5 feet (1.67
Range: 6,000-plus miles (5,218 nautical
Speed: Approximately 15,000 mph (Mach 23 or 24,000
kph) at burnout
Ceiling: 700 miles (1,120
Thrust: First stage, 202,600
Load: Re-entry vehicle: Lockheed Martin Missiles
and Space MK 12 or MK 12A
Guidance systems: Inertial
system: Boeing North American; ground electronic/security system:
Sylvania Electronics Systems and Boeing Co.
Unit cost: $7
Date deployed: June 1970, production cessation:
Inventory: Active force, 500; Reserve, 0;
Air Force Space Command,
Public Affairs Office; 150 Vandenberg St., Suite 1105; Peterson
AFB, CO 80914-4500; DSN 692-3731 or (719) 554-3731.