Skip to comments.A look at the Minuteman missile, mission, future
Posted on 07/07/2014 11:04:03 PM PDT by Citizen Zed
The Air Force's nuclear missiles have stood ready for war on short notice for more than 50 years. Americans tend to assume the missiles are safe, if they even remember they exist. But safety cannot be taken for granted.
President John F. Kennedy said the missiles represent "the most awesome destructive power that any nation or any man has ever conceived."
The Air Force operates just one type of land-based nuclear missile, the Minuteman 3. It is a class of weapon known as an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. The term refers to the fact that it has global reach. It is ballistic because its trajectory consists of three parts: powered flight from the ground through the Earth's atmosphere; free-flight through space; and re-entry until it hits its target.
The U.S. has 450 of the missiles, each with a single nuclear warhead attached. The missiles are guided to a target by a self-contained navigation system that uses motion and rotation sensors to track and update the missile's position and orientation.
Each Minuteman 3 missile is based in its own underground silo "hardened" with concrete to withstand an enemy nuclear strike. The silo is linked via communications cables to a launch control center, also underground.
At the heart of the ICBM force are the men and women who command the missiles. They are called missileers and are junior officers lieutenants and captains, typically ages 22 to 27. Two missileers operate an underground launch control center, which is responsible for 10 missiles.
The missileers do 24-hour "alert" shifts, then hand off to a replacement crew. Because the missiles are meant to be ready for combat on short notice, the launch capsules are manned without interruption, 365 days a year.
(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...
Good God we only have 450 now?
Don’t we have mirv’s too?
Outside of the blast door to the control center was painted with a Domino's pizza logo saying "Delivery anywhere in the world within 15 minutes. If not satisfied, a second one free."
Love military humor.
Supposedly reduced to three W-87’s per missile down from a lot more than that.
Pretty much the same count for the W-88’s on D-5’s in Trident II subs from what I’ve read.
Minutemen have the “cool” factor but it’s hard to compete with a Titan II for sheer impressive brawn.
Kinda like a B-1 vs. a BUFF.
“Delivery anywhere in the world within 15 minutes. If not satisfied, a second one free.”
Oh, good humor.
I was a communications equipment repair technician in the early 70’s stationed at McConnell AFB KS. I maintained the primary alert system that would have delivered the Nuke Em message to the Titan II crews. The missile sites were awesome and a little surreal. SAC was a weird organization. The Titan II was decommissioned years ago but only 450 land based ICBMs seems tiny by comparison to that period in time.
I was the XO to the AF Contingency Support Staff in the basement of the Pentagon when the Titan blew up in Arkansas in 1980. What a mess. Luckily only one individual lost his life and that was too many.
I’m about halfway through “Arc Light” by Eric Harry. Pretty good book about nukes. (no spoilers please)
I really don’t know the total number of land based at the time. During the Cold War we were not handed a card giving that info and google didn’t exist. Everything was classified. I had a Top Secret with Crypto Access Clearance, but there is that little catch, (need to know). I know the total was cut by SALT. 450 is more than enough. Also I’m sure we have more Sub based and Ship based nukes than we need to destroy the world and they’re easier to hide.
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