Orbital ATK's Defense Systems Group has secured a research contract to develop options for the US Air Force (USAF) intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM).
Awarded under the framework of the USAF's multi-year ground-based strategic deterrent programme (GBSD), the contract will see the company provide design and development options for ICBM.
Under the terms of the contract, the company will conduct trade studies and hardware demonstrations aimed at improving post-boost propulsion system effectiveness, reducing life-cycle costs, and increasing safety and reliability for future ground-based strategic missile systems.
The contract aims at exploring alternative options to current post-boost propulsion systems in order to improve propulsion capability
Orbital ATK's Defense Systems Group Missile Products division vice-president and general manager Pat Nolan said: "Orbital ATK's post boost technology offers the GBSD community with years of experience supporting numerous systems, including the US Navy Trident II."
Having entered operational service with the USAF in 1968, the current Minuteman III represents the land-based component of the US nuclear triad.
Manufactured by Boeing, the ground-based ICBM designed to deliver nuclear warheads represents one component of a nuclear triad that is complemented by the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and by nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bomber aircraft.
Upon completion of the new GBSD system, it will replace the Minuteman III in the late 2020s.
Image: Minuteman 3 missile launch. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force.