[Defense in Brief] U.S. Air Force to test next-gen ICBMs in 2020

In keeping with President Obama’s and now President Trump’s plans to upgrade the U.S. nuclear triad over the next three decades, the Pentagon will begin testing new ICBM concepts that may form the basis for the future ground-based deterrent in 2020. The Air Force will lead the development effort to engineer and deploy next-generation, high-tech intercontinental ballistic missiles with improved range, durability, targeting technology and overall lethality, officials have said. Called the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, the system will be designed to serve the country well into the 2070s, though it’s at all clear given advancing technologies that nuclear ICBMs will still be in service by then in anyone’s military. Overall, the Air Force will seek to build as many as 400 new GBSD systems to replace the 1970s-era Minuteman III ICBMs currently stationed in underground silos in various parts of the country. Developers will be focused on upgrading guidance packages, durability, and new targeting technology. The new missiles will most likely be stored where the Minuteman missiles are stored now — in a 33,000-square mile area encompassing North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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