LGM-30G Minuteman III
Published July 26, 2010
The LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is an element of the nation's strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. The "L" in LGM is the Department of Defense designation for silo-launched; "G" means surface attack; "M" stands for guided missile, the 30 stands for the Minuteman series of missile and the G after "30" is the current Minuteman III.
The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of intercontinental range. Missiles are dispersed in hardened silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center through a system of hardened cables. Launch crews, consisting of two officers, perform around-the-clock alert in the launch control center.
A variety of communication systems provide the president and secretary of defense with highly reliable, virtually instantaneous direct contact with each launch crew. Should command capability be lost between the launch control center and remote missile launch facilities, specially configured E-6B airborne launch control center aircraft automatically assume command and control of the isolated missile or missiles. Fully qualified airborne missile combat crews aboard airborne launch control center aircraft would execute the president's orders.
The Minuteman weapon system was conceived in the late 1950s and Minuteman I was deployed in the early 1960s. Minuteman was a revolutionary concept and an extraordinary technical achievement. Both the missile and basing components incorporated significant advances beyond the relatively slow-reacting, liquid-fueled, remotely-controlled intercontinental ballistic missiles of the previous generation. From the beginning, Minuteman missiles have provided a quick-reacting, inertially guided, highly survivable component to America's strategic deterrent program. Minuteman's maintenance concept capitalizes on high reliability and a "remove and replace" approach to achieve a near 100 percent alert rate.
Through state-of-the-art improvements, the Minuteman system has evolved to meet new challenges and assume new missions. Modernization programs have resulted in new versions of the missile, expanded targeting options, improved accuracy and survivability. Today's Minuteman weapon system is the product of almost 60 years of continuous enhancement.
The current ICBM force consists of 450 Minuteman III missiles located at the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D.
Primary Function: Intercontinental ballistic missile
Contractor: Boeing Co.
Power Plant: three solid-propellant rocket motors; First Stage ATK refurbished M55A1; Second Stage ATK refurbished SR-19; Third Stage ATK refurbished SR-73
Technologies Chemical Systems Division Thrust: First Stage: 203,158 pounds; Second Stage: 60,793 pounds; Third Stage: 35,086 pounds
Weight: 79,432 pounds (36,030 kilograms)
Diameter: 5.5 feet (1.67 meters)
Range: 6,000-plus miles (5,218 nautical miles)
Speed: Approximately 15,000 mph (Mach 23 or 24,000 kph) at burnout
Ceiling: 700 miles (1,120 kilometers)
Date deployed: June 1970, production cessation: December 1978
Inventory: Active force, 450; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0