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Minuteman III

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract to provide support for the US Air Force’s (USAF) LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ground subsystems.

As the sole award recipient for the $963.5m indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, the company will provide programme management support, engineering services, and emergency response to the air force.

Specifically, the $4.4m contract covers weapon system analyses, system and subsystems assessment, and the provision of technical advisement and assistance to the ICBM Systems Directorate on ground systems-related programmes, risk management, and mitigation.

Northrop Grumman Technical Services Integrated Logistics and Modernization division sector vice-president and general manager Steve Hogan said: "Northrop Grumman continues a 50-plus year partnership with the US Air Force on ICBMs.

"Our more than 17-year experience as the ICBM prime integration contractor uniquely qualifies us to perform the required operational and sustainment activities that ensure the security, surety and reliability of our nation’s ICBM weapon system."

Northrop Grumman Technical Services Weapon Systems Sustainment and Modernisation director John Parker said: "With our experienced leadership and revitalised workforce, Northrop Grumman will provide the US Air Force with a highly-capable engineering and management support team in an affordable programme structure.

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"Northrop Grumman will provide the US Air Force with a highly-capable engineering and management support team in an affordable programme structure."

"Our team will assist in continually assessing and sustaining the ICBM ground subsystems segment using our proven, innovative approaches to ensure mission success."

Work under the contract is scheduled to be performed by the company personnel at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Omaha, Nebraska, Vandenberg Air Force Base and San Bernardino, California, US, over the next five years.

However, Boeing has expressed disappointment over the contract award and has reportedly asked the USAF to brief about its decision.

Boeing spokeswoman Queena Jones was quoted by Reuters as saying: "Boeing is disappointed by the decision.

"We believe Boeing provided the best solution to sustain the Minuteman ICBM programme, leveraging Boeing’s 55 years of experience in ICBM development and maximising the benefits of Boeing’s personnel, capabilities, and original equipment manufacturer expertise.

"We have requested a debrief and will determine a path forward following completion of the debrief."

The Boeing-built Minuteman III is a ground-based, long-range, solid-fuel, three-stage ICBM designed to carry single or multiple nuclear warheads, and forms one component of the US nuclear triad.

Image: A LGM-30G Minuteman III missile inside a silo near Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, US. Photo: courtesy of Staff Sgt Alan R Wycheck.