U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet
LGM-30 Minuteman III

The LGM-30G 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.

The 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.

An extensive 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.

The 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.

Through 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 enhancement.

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 AFB.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: Intercontinental ballistic missile
Contractor: Boeing Co.
Power Plant: Three solid-propellant rocket motors; first stage - Thiokol; second stage - Aerojet-General; third stage - United Technologies Chemical Systems Division
Length: 59.9 feet (18 meters)
Weight: 79,432 pounds (32,158 kilograms)
Diameter: 5.5 feet (1.67 meters)
Range: 6,000-plus miles (5,218 nautical miles)
Speed: Approximately 15,000 mph (Mach 23 or 24,000 kph) at burnout
Ceiling: 700 miles (1,120 kilometers)
Thrust: First stage, 202,600 pounds
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 million
Date deployed: June 1970, production cessation: December 1978
Inventory: Active force, 500; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0

Point of Contact
Air Force Space Command, Public Affairs Office; 150 Vandenberg St., Suite 1105; Peterson AFB, CO 80914-4500; DSN 692-3731 or (719) 554-3731.

May 2002

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