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Minuteman III Remains Safe, Secure for U.S. Air Force

A Minuteman III ICBM launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)
A Minuteman III ICBM launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)

As 2014 came to a close, the Minuteman III, with the most modern NS50 guidance system, quietly passed the mark of 40 million operating hours.  

The silent moment had significance. The U.S. Air Force has kept the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system on alert for more than 50 years, serving to deter nuclear threats against the nation by remaining safe, secure and effective. Since 1958, Boeing has sustained and upgraded the ICBM force, ensuring the reliability of every component of the ICBM’s ground and guidance systems.  

First put on alert in the 1960s, Minuteman III is a long-range, three-stage, solid-fueled strategic missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads.  

Keeping the ICBM fleet in continuous operational mode boosts mission reliability, allowing the U.S. Air Force to strategically plan tests and upgrades without a loss of capability and with significant cost savings.  

The first NS50 went on operation in 1999. Boeing, as part of the Northrop Grumman-led prime integration team, replaced older guidance systems with NS50s.

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