Representatives from Lockheed Martin, hoping to secure the contract for the replacement of the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM fleet), were in Great Falls this week to meet with city leaders.
The Minuteman III has been in place since the 1970’s, with some of the launch and command and control systems dating back to the 1960’s.
Malmstrom Air Force Base operates and maintains 450 of the ICBMs in missile facilities across north and central Montana.
Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming also operate and maintain ICBM fleets of the same size.
Representatives from Lockheed Martin came to talk about their version of the new "Ground Based Strategic Deterrent" program.
They are competing against Boeing and Northrop Grumman for the new contract.
The representatives are looking into how they can maximize the economic benefits and minimize the impact the construction will have on the city.
They will be outfitting 165 facilities throughout the missile fields so they want to build those relationships before the work takes place.
"Establish some relationships. Understand what industrial members are available. Is there construction firms, cement firms, or electrical firms that are in the area and have a ready work force. Also to look for other areas that might be available for a staging area, manufacturing, or an upgrade area," said John Karas of Lockheed Martin.
Some of the equipment that will be brought in for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent will need to be put together on-site.
In the late summer the Air Force will be selecting two of the companies to move forward in the process.
The U.S. Air Force released the following information about the program:
GBSD is the follow-on to the aging LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM. The launch systems and weapon system command and control physical infrastructure being used for Minuteman III today first became operational with the Minuteman I ICBM system in the mid-1960s. While certain components and subsystems have been upgraded over the years, including a transition to Minuteman III configuration in the 1970s, most of the fundamental infrastructure in use today is original and has supported more than 50 years of continuous operation.
The Minuteman III flight systems in use today were fielded in the late 1990s and early 2000s with an intended 20-year lifespan. The current Minuteman III system will face increased operational and sustainment challenges until it can be replaced.
The Air Force is focused on developing and delivering an integrated weapon system, including launch and command and control segments. The new GBSD weapon system will meet existing national requirements, while having the adaptability and flexibility to affordably address changing technology and threat environments through 2075. Deployment is projected to begin in the late 2020s.