The US Department of the Air Force (DAF) has officially designated its new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) weapon system as the LGM-35A Sentinel.

The designation was approved by US Air Force (USAF) secretary Frank Kendall.

Kendall said: “Our nation’s nuclear deterrent force, two legs of which is operated by airmen, has quietly provided a strategic security shield for decades.

“All that time, the Department of the Air Force has kept the watch; always vigilant and ready.

“The name Sentinel recognises the mindset that thousands of airmen, past and present, have brought to the deterrence mission, and will serve as a reminder for those who operate, secure, and maintain this system in the future about the discipline and responsibility their duty entails.”

The LGM-35A Sentinel will provide continuity in strategic deterrence while being cost-effective.

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It will replace the USAF’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet consisting of LGM-30G Minuteman III. The ageing LGM-30G has been operating since the 1970s.

USAF chief of staff general CQ Brown said: “As the Air Force celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the Minuteman III weapon system has been and will continue to be integral to our nation’s defence.”

Planned to remain operational into the 2070s, the LGM-35A Sentinel is a fully integrated launch, flight and infrastructure system equipped with the latest command and control functions.

The USAF’s missile bases, including Wyoming, F.E. Warren, Montana, Minot and Malmstrom, will house the new LGM-35A.

Both the Minuteman III and Sentinel systems will meet the nuclear safety standards using available infrastructure at the USAF bases during the transition period.

The USAF awarded a $13.3bn contract to Northrop Grumman to support its programme to develop GBSD in September 2020.

Last year, Northrop Grumman awarded a contract to HDT Global to support the USAF’s GBSD programme.