Boeing to continue upgrading and maintaining missile guidance on fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, 1 Feb. 2016. Strategic weapons experts at the Boeing Co. will continue upgrading and maintaining the missile guidance systems on the U.S. fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) under terms of a $15.6 million U.S. Air Force contract modification announced Friday.

Boeing to continue upgrading and maintaining missile guidance on fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs
Boeing to continue upgrading and maintaining missile guidance on fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, 1 Feb. 2016. Strategic weapons experts at the Boeing Co. will continue upgrading and maintaining the missile guidance systems on the U.S. fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) under terms of a $15.6 million U.S. Air Force contract modification announced Friday.

Officials of the Air Force Nuclear Weapon Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, are asking the Boeing Directed Energy & Strategic Systems segment at Hill Air Force Base for ICBM guidance subsystem support.

The contract is a modification of a $51.2 million contract awarded to Boeing in January 2015 to provide sustaining engineering and program management support for the ICBM guidance subsystem. The primary focus of the original contract was to ensure any modifications or changes to the guidance system will maintain and improve system-level performance of the Minuteman III ICBM.

The U.S. Minuteman III fleet constitutes one-third of the nation's nuclear weapons deterrent. Other U.S nuclear warheads are on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and on manned jet bombers.

Each Minuteman III missile is 60 feet tall, 5.5 feet in diameter, and powered by three solid rocket motors that can launch the 80,000-pound missile to altitudes of 700 miles to deliver nuclear warheads as far away as 6,500 miles. Each missile contains as many as three independently targeted warheads in separate reentry vehicles.

Related: Air Force asks Boeing to upgrade test gear for nation's Minuteman III nuclear missiles

The U.S. maintains Minuteman III missiles at 450 missile sites in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The missiles themselves are in underground silos and are ready for launch on very short notice.

The Minuteman III originally was equipped with a Rockwell Autonetics D37D flight computer, but as of 2008 has been upgraded as part of the Minuteman-III Guidance Replacement Program (GRP). The Boeing Co. acquired Rockwell Autonetics in 1996, and the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems segment in Heath, Ohio, was in charge of the GRP initiative.

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Boeing experts installed the NS-50 missile guidance computer (MGC) based on a 16-bit high-speed microprocessor, which helps the missile correct positional errors and generate steering signals.

Minuteman III computer programs are stored on a magnetic tape cartridge. The computer also controls the alignment of the inertial measurement unit, and performs test and monitoring of the missile's guidance & control system. Other parts of the Minuteman-III's latest guidance system include the Gyro Stabilized Platform (GSP), Digital Control Unit (DCU), Missile Guidance Set Control (MGSC), and the Amplifier Assembly.

Boeing provides sustaining engineering, modifications, and upgrades for the U.S. Minuteman III ICBM fleet, which is manned 24/7 by U.S. Air Force officers. Boeing is responsible for guidance, flight controls, secure codes and ground subsystems, as well as designing, testing, modernizing, and repairing Minuteman III ICBM systems and components.

Related: Raytheon to help upgrade command and control for U.S. land-based nuclear missile forces

In October 2015 Boeing won a $110.1 million contract to replace special test components that will help ensure that the Minuteman III fleet will remain reliable and deadly at least through 2030.

That contract called for Boeing to replace the Minuteman III telemetry, test, and termination systems, which are packaged in a wafer-like package called the Mod 7 that fits on test versions of the Minuteman between the missile's reentry system and missile guidance set.

The Mod 7 wafer that contains the telemetry, test, and termination systems is installed only on missiles that will be test fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California to an impact site in the Pacific Ocean near the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll.

On the Minuteman III ICBM support contract announced Friday, Boeing will do the work at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and should be finished by Feb. 1, 2017.

For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at www.boeing.com/defense.

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