A U-turn from the UK, as seen in last month’s Integrated Review, typifies concern over the risk of Chinese interference in strategically important industries.
USAF seeks to start work on GBSD facilities in 2023
The USAF intends to start construction in 2023 on the first of three new facilities to house the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which will replace the obsolescent fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs.
Construction at F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming will be followed by GBSD facilities at Malmstrom AFB, Montana (starting in 2026) and Minot AFB, North Dakota (2029).
However, these dates depend on the completion of environmental assessments at each base ‘in accordance with Federal laws and policies’, the USAF noted in a 14 August statement.
Using infrastructure at current locations allows both the Minuteman III and GBSD weapons systems to continue meeting all nuclear surety and safety standards throughout their operational lives, particularly during the transition period, the USAF added.
Gen Tim Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said: ‘The Minuteman III is 50 years old; it’s past time to upgrade the missile systems. Our goal is ensure our systems remain fully safe, secure and effective in the defense of our nation and allies.’
The aim behind GBSD is to deliver a low technical risk, affordable and comprehensive replacement for Minuteman III from the late 2020s onwards.
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Minuteman engineering and programme management support deal is worth $2.31 billion.
New sustainment plans could see Lockheed Martin reduce operating costs of the F-35 to $25,000 per flight hour.
Some €600 million is being spent in Germany on a range of defence procurement initiatives.
Design research work is underway in Russia on a new ICBM to replace the RS-24 Yars.
DARPA is working with industry on 'unburdening the warfighter' by developing advanced and ultra-lightweight personal protective equipment. Its Personalized Protective Biosystems programme pre-dates COVID-19, but it arguably assumes even greater importance for defence procurement in the context of the pandemic.