Minuteman III Follow-On Being Eyed, Nukes for JSF Delayed

Minuteman III Follow-On Being Eyed, Nukes for JSF Delayed

The Air Force has begun the very first steps in identifying its next generation of nuclear ballistic missiles, the commander of the service’s nuclear forces told lawmakers today. Meanwhile, the integration of the B61 tactical nuclear bomb onto the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may be delayed as the overall JSF program slips in schedule.

First off, the service is in the midst of preparing a capabilities-based assessment of what it will need from as many as 420 nuclear-armed ICBMs to replace the 40-year old Minuteman IIIs when they wear out, Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, chief of Air Force Global Strike Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Once this is complete, the Air Force will further refine the capabilities it wants to see in its future nuclear forces and conduct an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for the weapons starting in fiscal year 2013, according to the general.

“The efforts that we’re pursuing right now won’t address policies, it will simply address what we see as capability requirements based on the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review,” said Kowalski, referring to the Pentagon’s document for how for nuclear forces will fit in the nation’s 21st Century security policy.

The AoA will likely look at all options for completely replacing the Minuteman III or modifying the weapons to further extend their lives.

The whole process of identifying a potential replacement for the Minuteman III is expected to take until FY-14, added Maj. Gen. William Chambers, the service’s assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration.

Chambers also told the committee that work integrating the B61 tactical nuclear bomb (largely deployed at air bases hosting F-16s and F-15Es in Europe) onto the F-35 may be delayed due to the roughly two year slip in the overall F-35 development program.

“The timeline for production and delivery for the F-35 is going to slip to the right, the amount of time is unknown but that will impact the delivery of that capability with the new B61 life-extended, B61 Mod 12, to” air allied bases in Europe, said Chambers. “Thorough planning is underway to cover any potential gap this slip may require.”

The B61 has been a mainstay of the Air Force’s tactical nuclear bomb arsenal for decades.

“Some portion” of the Air Force current fleet of F-16s and F-15E Strike Eagles that carry the B61 will “continue to conduct that mission until the F-35 is ready to deploy to Europe,” said Chambers.

The two-star went on to say that while the overall JSF program is delayed by two years, certain elements such as work integrating the B61 onto the plane, may not slip by that long. He also noted that the software giving the plane the ability to carry the bomb is still scheduled to be added to the jet immediately after the end of the jet’s development phase.

F-35 was originally slated to be ready to carry the tactical nuke by 2017.


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About time.…

By the time they actually get around to buying an ICBM the industrial capacity will be gone. This is nothing but window dressing.

“By the time they actually get around to buying an ICBM the industrial capacity will be gone

This is EXACTLY little barry obama the boy prezident’s plan to unilaterally disarm the USA. His and his GD America pastor’s dream..

I respect everyone’s comments but as a glass half full kind of guy I also say about time! Now let’s follow through this time.

And I should have said we need a new system not a modified 40 year old missile. We might need a little bit more throw weight in 20 years to keep the Chi-coms and Ruskies in check : )

A modern Titan II would work for me. Imagine a Peackeeper but scaled to 110 feet long and say, 12 feet in diameter. Some will scoff but imagine the versitility that kind of throw weight would offer. Then for survivability a road mobile / offroad Midgetman for backup.

Stop Production of the JSF,.… We’ve been integrating systems on this valueless overpriced platform for over 15 years. In fact, I’ve seen more JSF’s sitting at the main gates of numerous bases, as well as, the AIr and Space Museum with an “Eye Beam” in its tail section, than are flying. The Software OFP, and Hardware is outdated, and cannot function as stated in its original ORD. Stealth is dead just like F-22. With that said, continuing down this path is a total waste of Government funds. Cramming a Nuke in the “Weapons Bay”, that I would speculate cannot be shoe horned in, will place yet another weapon on the list of non-functioning weapons that cannot be utilized on this platform. The tail continues to wag the dog.

The Airforce knows very well that it wont get any minuteman follow on because the JSF has eaten all the funds for the next two decades. The list of things the airforce cant do is growing longer and longer every day.

15–20 JSF JPO Program Managers in and out of the JSF Program in 15 plus years. Of course this includes this also includes the most resent Marine Corps Colonel that was fired/relieved of duty. The Program was so screwed up JPO had to bring in a retiring 3 star to help stop the bleeding. BTW: The Majority of these fired, removed and retired Officers now work for Lockheed Martin and solicit the Senate and Congress for continued funding. Politics at its best!!! Go Wall Street!!!

Image the price! Image the waste for a weapon that will, hopefully, never be fired! Image all the precious arms control agreements you could make!

Other than the same old knee-jerk reaction to the Russians, why do we even need a ICBM force, let alone a monster one that is in a fixed, unmoving silo.

Image instead a common missile with the USNs replacement for the TRIDENT D-5 SLBM. It would carry one warhead to achieve the required range (and probably due to some outmoded arms control agreement) while the Navy one could carry MIRVs with a somewhat shorter range. Common missile pool, common schools, common equipment, greater production run for economy of scale, only one R&D program, one upgrade program, etc. And best of all, you get an inherently mobile, soft-launch capability if you ever have a real threat that actually needs a dispersed nuclear force.

WTF does this thread have to do with JSF? Take your soapbox elsewhere.

Thank you “General” (I am Worthless” Merrill Anthony “Tony”) McPeak and of course Admiral “We must have 1000 additional 19knt Afterburning Ships, so to stop the madness I am now the Chairman of the JCS” Mullins, and of course the Prime “Give me additional Funds at 15% Profit after cost” Integrators for totally SCREWING Up the Air Force and Navy with your “Let put everything into Stealth”!!! Your Legacy Continues!!!!!

I’ll take a modernized version of the Peacekeeper please.

I still dont see why the USA needs more than, say, 10–15 nuclear warheads.

A single nuke will devastate most countries and force them into a massive social & economic crisis, and by most standards will end any war. The only reason you would require 420 nuclear warhead equipped ICBMs is if you wanted to turn the entire surface of the earth into an uninhabitable nuclear wasteland, which is counter-productive to say the least.

As for the JSF, Yeah the programme is completely f*cked up, but we’re all committed now, so theres not much point in whining about how it should be scrapped, cause that would be even more pointless.

Nukes are powerful, but they aren’t that powerful. Plus you need to factor in tactical nuclear weapons, redundant capabilities (if some of your nukes are taken out), systems that will intercept missiles, etc.

Wow, have you got the wrong username.

In reality there is no reason why the AF has to have its own missile design and they dont just land base D5 tridents that already have the range, upgrades and capability. The current bombs are way more powerful than the originals but have a much lower airborne radiation threat than the older ones or even a reactor plant meltdown. Also considering the airburst effect over surface or subterrain there is not much chance of triigering massive earth quakes and sunamis world wide so total devistation is not likely.

Wow.… into the political garbage can on the 3rd comment. That might be a new record.

With the navy working on the SSBN-X, I think it makes sense for the Air Force and Navy to work on one SLBM and a separate ICBM that has >75% commonality. I think everything other then the frame of the missile could be common between the missiles.

You recommend an entirely new, “U.S. American” I.C.B.M. with a silo– ( = ground-) launched version and an alternative submarine-launched version, similar to “Tomahawk” cruise missiles? Hmm, let me think…: Aren’t you by chance



very own, dual I.C.B.M. / S.L.B.M. concept (!!!) , the “Topol” / “Bulava”, you know: That Russian missile being developed now, for indiscernible reasons a routine target of (nervous?) jokes from U.S. American chauvinists?

Does Maj. Gen. Chambers know that, according to the JSF ORD, the fact that select JSF could deploy a B61 is classified? That fact is also classified in briefings on the B61 itself. While it may be an open secret, DoD ploicy (see Wikileaks) is to not consider publicly known facts as de facto declassified.

It appears some folks are not fully aware that a TRIDENT D5 missile while it is launched from a submarine is actualy an ICBM that can deploy from any part of the world and take out multiple targets in another part of the world. It does not require a sub to be parked off the coast of a country in order to launch a missile at it. and it will drop the warheads within 3 yards of the designated target. So the answer is no — we do not need a SLBM for subs and a longer range ICBM for the Air Force, one missile can do both roles. The D5 is nothing like the old actual SLBM polaris and posiden missiles it is much larger and extreamly longer range with constellation mapping so it is not dependent on GPS signals.

Yes since they are still in production you could offset costs. They are the shuttle boosters also, so you could probably stack an extra motor and get more speed and range. Well sounds like it will work since it boosted a shuttle anyways.

USAF ICBMs are EMP hardened. Tridents are not. (They live underwater so it is a nonissue unless they happen to be in flight.

SLBM’s also use a more volatile “class 1.1″ propellant because they won’t have to possibly “ride out” a nuclear near miss.

The AFRL has a “rapid prototyping” department. I think this would be a perfect program to research, develop and test a modern missile design that would include state of the art in everything from lightweight missile casings and nozzles, electronic/guidance, and even new RV/MARV and warhead technologies.

There is so much BS and nonsense in the responses above that logical thought seems to be out of place. The forum sounds more like a political science class among liberal leaning students. There are few facts in any of this.
A single nuclear weapon might destroy a city. Comparisons to Hiroshima are out of place because most of the city was made out of wood and paper per 1945 and earlier construction. The JSF program is so misconstrued that to response to the BS above is impossible in the short space given for comments.
Blaming the current president for decades of weapons development and treaties is short sighted.

17th oct 2011:minuteman iii replacement;
titan v doublemirv icbm lgm30h [2*w99]
200 malmstrom afb
200 minot afb
120 fe warren afb

The president is too blame for everything the buck stops with the CIC period

2nd the retired MX was due to politics of a multiple warhead missle holding 10 each. The minuteman III carries a single warhead. We need a single warhead missle that meets the range requirements. Not sure the D5 does that past say 5,000 miles. Also why waste time on JSF carrying nukes when a bomber would carry more of them. Really dumb. The NGB should do this. Since the B61 is ancient history then make new ones that are more compact and enough throw weight to get the message out. 1 megaton warheads are obsolete. It was designed for a time when accuracy was horrible. Now that we have precision go with smaller bombs.

3rd I would focus on conventional gps munitions and better bunker busters for places like iran. Our enemies know we are more likely to use those and fear them. It is in fact cheaper to do as well. Again the bomber force comes into play and maybe a modernized B52 with raptor type engines would be well suited for saturation bombing in the 21st century. Build them cheap and make hundreds of them. America forgets bombers helped win WWII.

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