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USAF’s New GBSD Weapon System Designated as LGM-35A Sentinel

USAF’s New GBSD Weapon System Designated as LGM-35A Sentinel

The US nuclear deterrence force has a new ICBM. The US Department of the Air Force (DAF) has officially designated its new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) weapon system as the LGM-35A Sentinel. US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has approved the designation for the system that modernizes the terrestrial ICBM portion of the US nuclear triad. The new system will replace USAF’s ageing LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM.

“Our Nation’s nuclear deterrent force, two legs of which is operated by Airmen, has quietly provided a strategic security shield for decades,” Kendall said.The US Air Force has determined that the LGM-35A Sentinel will provide continuity in strategic deterrence and will cost less than extending the life of the current intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet, made up of the old Minuteman III. The missile replacement of the 1970s modernizes the terrestrial part of the American nuclear triad and will conclude the Minuteman"s more than 50 years of service.

“As the Air Force celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the Minuteman III Weapon System has been and will continue to be integral to our Nation’s defence,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “The new system will incorporate technically mature and low-tech components that will feature a modular architecture that can easily incorporate emerging technologies to adapt to rapidly changing threat environments and will be easier to maintain than the Minuteman system. This will allow cost savings and ensure safety as Sentinel will operate until at least 2070.

(Shown is an illustration of the LGM-35A Sentinel launch centre)LGM-30G Minuteman IIIThe LGM-30G Minuteman ICBM is an element of the United States Strategic Deterrence Forces under the control of the US Air Force Global Strike Command. The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system that uses an intercontinental ballistic missile. The missiles are dispersed in underground silos for launch and to protect them from attacks and are connected to a launch control centre which is also underground with launch teams made up of two officers.

(Shown is an illustration of the LGM-35A Sentinel launch silo)

The Minuteman weapon system was conceived in the late 1950s, and through cutting-edge improvements, the system has evolved to meet new challenges and take on new missions. Modernization programs have resulted in new missile versions, expanded targeting options, and increased accuracy and survivability. Today"s Minuteman weapon system is the product of nearly 60 years of continuous improvement. The current ground-based ICBM force consists of 400 Minuteman III missiles located at the 90th Missile Wing on FE Warren AFB, the 341st Missile Wing on Malmstrom AFB, and the 91st Missile Wing on the Minot AFB.GBSD – Ground-Based Strategic DeterrentIn September 2020, the US Air Force awarded the main GBSD contract for the engineering and manufacturing development phase to a team led by Northrop Grumman. Using a digital engineering approach, the GBSD will be a fully integrated weapon system that will meet the current needs of the US government while having the flexibility to cost-effectively address evolving technology and emerging threats for decades to come.