LGM-30G Minuteman III
Published June 11, 2010
The LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is an element of the nation's strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. 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 was implemented to keep the remaining missiles safe, secure and effective well into the 21st century. Updates to major programs include: remanufacture of the solid-propellant rocket motors, replacement of standby power systems, repair of launch facilities, and installation of updated, survivable communications equipment and additional security enhancements, improvements to missile alert facilities.
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 strategic deterrent program. 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 450 Minuteman III's located at the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D.
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
Thrust: First stage, 202,600 pounds
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)
Date deployed: June 1970, production cessation: December 1978
Inventory: Active force, 450; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0