The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force

The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force Source: RAND Corporation

In the lead-up to the Air Force Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Analysis of Alternatives, RAND was asked to examine and assess possible intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) alternatives against the current Minuteman III system and to provide insights into the potential impact of further force reductions. The researchers developed a framework consisting of five categories — basing, propulsion, boost, reentry, and payload — to characterize alternative classes of ICBM and to assess the survivability and effectiveness of possible alternatives. Using existing cost analyses and cost data from historical ICBM programs, they derived likely cost bounds on alternative classes of ICBM systems. Finally, they developed force reduction scenarios, examined their impacts on several key nuclear specialty career fields to understand the implications of reductions on the current organizational structure, and compared sustainment and requirement profiles within the various reduction scenarios.