The move, which is expected to cost the U.S. nearly $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Comes midst the Trump Administration’s drive to overhaul and boost the defense industry of the country.
In a significant development the Pentagon has disclosed that the U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp separate contracts to continue their work on the replacement of the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system.
The re-awarding of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) contract from midst the U.S. getting tough with China-backed North Korea.
The development also underscores the Trump Administration’s desire to overhaul and upgrade the country’s aging ICBM system and its nuclear cruise missiles.
“The Minuteman III is 45 years old. It is time to upgrade,” said Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said in a statement.
While Boeing was awarded a $349 million three-year contract, Northrop Grumman was also awarded a three year $328 million contract.
The relatively small contract amount is a milestone. It will allow both companies to parallelly continue their detailed development and prototyping for the replacement of the Minuteman missile system.
As per the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), the upgradation and replacement program will cost the U.S. $85 billion, however as the Air Force’s assessment it will cost around $62 billion.
As per Frank McCall, the Director of Boeing’s Strategic Deterrence Systems, “Since the first Minuteman launch in 1961, the U.S. Air Force has relied on our technologies for a safe, secure and reliable ICBM force.”
Incidentally, it was Boeing which prototyped and developed the ground-based nuclear Minuteman III missile system.
Northrop Grumman’s chief Wes Bush said in a statement, “We look forward to the opportunity to provide the nation with a modern strategic deterrent system that is secure, resilient and affordable.”
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said, “We are moving forward with modernization of the ground-based leg of the nuclear triad.”
The modernization of U.S. nuclear forces is estimated to cost the country more than $350 billion over the next decade. According to some analysts, replacing the country’s aging machines of of war, including bombs, nuclear bombers, missiles and submarines is likely to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.
“Our missiles were built in the 1970s. Things just wear out, and it becomes more expensive to maintain them than to replace them,” said Wilson.