Artists image of the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missile. Photo courtesy of Boeing
July 24 (UPI) -- Boeing has proposed design options to the U.S. Air Force for design of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, a possible replacement for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.
"We offered the Air Force cost and performance trades for a deterrent that will address emerging and future threats," Frank McCall, vice president for Boeing Strategic Deterrence Systems, said in a press release.
"By considering the various capabilities and opportunities for cost savings, the Air Force can prioritize system requirements as we progress toward the program's next phase," McCall said.
Boeing received a $349 million contract from the Air Force last August for work on the GBSD, and completed a design review in November.
A system functional review will be completed later this year, while Boeing is expected to present the completed design to the Air Force in 2020.
Along with Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are competing for development contracts on the new missile.
The Ground Based Strategic Deterrence program is the U.S. Air Force effort to replace the venerable LGM Minuteman II ICBM, which is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Upgrades of the Minuteman series of ICBMs have been in service since the early 1960's. Much of its components are over 50 years old and making replacement necessary.
The GDSM program is still in its early stages but is expected to start entering service in 2027 and is planned to be in service until 2075.
The current Minuteman III is an underground silo-launched missile armed with nuclear warheads with up to a 350 kiloton yield. It has a range of well over 6,000 miles, though the exact maximum range classified.
The Minuteman III can carry up to three multiple independent reentry vehicle warheads but is restricted to one per missile by treaty. The United States currently has 450 ICBMs in service.