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Ground Based Strategic Deterrent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ground Based Strategic Deterrent
TypeIntercontinental ballistic missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service2027 onward
Used byUnited States
Production history
ManufacturerNorthrop Grumman
WarheadW87 mod 0 thermonuclear warhead (300 kilotons of TNT (1,300 TJ))
W87 mod 1 thermonuclear warhead (unknown yield)[1]
Ground-burst and/or air-burst fusing modes

EngineThree-stage solid-fuel rocket
astro-inertial + GPS
Missile silo

The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) is a US land-based intercontinental ballistic missile system in the early stages of development, slated to replace all 450 Minuteman III missiles in service with the United States Air Force from 2027 onward.


A request for proposal for development and maintenance of a next-generation nuclear ICBM was made by the US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, ICBM Systems Directorate, GBSD Division in July 2016. The GBSD would replace the Minuteman III, which was first deployed in 1970, in the land-based portion of the US nuclear triad.[2] The new missiles, to be phased in over a decade from the late 2020s, are estimated over a fifty-year life cycle to cost around $86 billion. Boeing and Northrop Grumman competed for the contract.[3] In August 2017, the Air Force awarded 3-year development contracts to Boeing and Northrop Grumman for $349 million and $329 million, respectively.[4] One of these companies was to be selected to produce a ground-based nuclear ICBM in 2020. In 2027, the GBSD program is expected to enter service and remain active until 2075.[5]

On 25 July 2019, Boeing announced it would not place a bid for the program, citing Northrop's recent acquisition of Orbital ATK (now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems), Boeing's supplier of solid rocket motors. Northrop signed an agreement to firewall Boeing's proprietary data after acquiring Orbital ATK.[6] The Air Force has since halted funding for the Boeing project, leaving only Northrop Grumman as a bidder.[7]

In December 2019, it was announced that Northrop Grumman won the competition to build the future ICBM. Northrop won by default, as their bid was the only bid left to be considered for the GBSD program. The Air Force said that they will "proceed with an aggressive and effective sole-source negotiation" in reference to Northrop's bid.[8]

On 8 September 2020 the Department of the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $13.3 billion contract to develop the GBSD intercontinental ballistic missile.[9]


In March 2019 the W87 mod 1 thermonuclear warhead was selected for GBSD, replacing the W78 warhead currently used in Minuteman III. It is unclear if the W78 will be fitted to GBSD or if some other arrangement such as moving W87-0s to GBSD first will be made, but the estimated first production unit date was moved to 2030, a delay from the initial estimated entry into service date of 2027.[1]


  1. ^ a b "W87-1 Modification Program" (PDF). March 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Boeing Ready to Design Next Generation of US Nuclear Missiles". Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  3. ^ "US Air Force set to replace intercontinental nuke arsenal". Archived from the original on 28 September 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  4. ^ Aaron Gregg Washington Post (21 August 2017) "Pentagon narrows competition for the next big U.S. nuclear missile"
  5. ^ "Boeing, Northrop Grumman receive development contracts for new ICBM". Archived from the original on 23 August 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  6. ^ Marcus Weisgerber (25 July 2019). "Boeing: $85B Competition to Build New ICBMs Favors Northrop Grumman". Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Aaron Gregg (Oct. 22, 2019) Air Force halts funding for Boeing's ballistic missile replacement". Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  8. ^ Sandra Erwin (14 December 2019). "Northrop Grumman wins competition to build future ICBM, by default". Archived from the original on 10 September 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  9. ^

External links

This page was last edited on 4 October 2020, at 08:19
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