Monday, September 26, 2016

US Air Force Set to Replace Intercontinental Nuke Arsenal |

US Air Force Set to Replace Intercontinental Nuke Arsenal | Hidden underground in steel-and-concrete silos across rural America, more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles point to the skies, poised for launch -- and ready to obliterate cities across the world.

First designed in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War, the Minuteman nuclear weapons are starting to show their age, and replacement parts are difficult to find for the weapons designed in an analog age.

Also aging are their silos, many built in the 1950s and now rusting as water seeps through the decaying concrete.

Over the next 20 years, the U.S. Air Force will switch out the entirety of its Minuteman III fleet with an as-yet-unnamed new missile known only as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).

The Air Force estimates the cost of the GBSD, to be introduced late in the 2020s and phased in over the following decade, will be around $86 billion over the missiles' life cycle of about 50 years.

Critics point to the Defense Department's long history of projects going way over budget and say the cost of replacing the nukes and maintaining their launch facilities is not warranted, given the tactical threats the United States currently faces.