The US Air Force (USAF) and Boeing have reviewed the latest design options for the country’s newest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).

The GBSD weapon system has been designed to serve as a reliable deterrent to nuclear threats in the future for more than 50 years.

Once deployed, the latest weapon system will begin to replace the Minuteman III ICBM in the late 2020s.

Boeing Strategic Deterrence Systems vice-president Frank McCall said: “We offered the airforce cost and performance trades for a deterrent that will address emerging and future threats.

“In 2020, the USAF is expected to choose one of the two companies to develop the new land-based element of the US nuclear triad.”

“By considering the various capabilities and opportunities for cost savings, the airforce can prioritise system requirements as we progress toward the programme’s next phase.”

In August, the USAF awarded a $349m contract to Boeing for the development of a preliminary design for the GBSD weapon system.

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The company completed a system requirements review in November. A system functional review is slated to be carried out later this year.

Boeing is expected to present its preliminary design review to the USAF in 2020.

Under the GBSD programme, Boeing and Northrop Grumman each received risk-reduction contracts for the replacement of the Minuteman III ICBM.

In 2020, the USAF is expected to choose one of the two companies to develop the new land-based element of the US nuclear triad.