The U.S. Air Force plans to begin military construction activities at three existing missile bases as it moves forward in the process of replacing the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).
The construction activities will begin at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming as early as 2023. Malmstrom AFB, Montana, will be the second installation to begin military construction activities in 2026, with Minot AFB, North Dakota, beginning in 2029. The construction start dates are pending the completion of Environmental Impact Statements for each base in accordance with Federal laws and policies.
Military construction is phased ahead of the actual deployment of GBSD to allow time for initial beddown, ensure facilities are ready for any unique mission equipment, and support training and operational certification prior to the first sites obtaining operational status at each wing.
Using infrastructure at current locations allows both the Minuteman III and GBSD weapons systems to continue meeting all nuclear surety and safety standards throughout their operational lives, particularly during the transition period.
“Ensuring missile bases remain missile bases makes the most sense for the taxpayer and the mission,” said Gen. Tim Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. “The Minuteman III is 50 years old; it’s past time to upgrade the missile systems. Our goal is ensure our systems remain fully safe, secure and effective in the defense of our nation and allies.”
GBSD is the most cost-effective option for maintaining a safe, secure and effective ICBM leg of the nuclear triad. The GBSD program’s objective is to deliver a low technical risk, affordable, total system replacement, starting in the late 2020s, to improve the ICBM’s capabilities and provide more efficient operations, maintenance, and security at lower lifecycle costs.