This legislative ask is designed to be shared with your members of Congress and their staff.
The United States currently fields 400 nuclear-tipped Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in land-based silos at Malmstrom, Minot, and Warren Air Force bases stretching across Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado. Despite a recently-completed, multibillion-dollar, decade-long program to extend these missiles’ service life, the Air Force is moving ahead with plans to develop a new, replacement ICBM—the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).
Congress should stop the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missile before it’s too late.
The country’s struggle to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need to rethink national security and budget priorities, including this costly, dangerous, and unnecessary new weapon.
In early September, the Air Force awarded a $13.3 billion sole-source contract to Northrop Grumman for the engineering and manufacturing development of the GBSD. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (WA-9) called the decision to move forward with the uncompetitive sole-source contract “very troubling.”
The GBSD project should be stopped because:
- A new ICBM is costly. An independent Pentagon study estimated that the GBSD will eventually total $85-$150 billion. The lack of contract competition will likely escalate total costs even further. Even at a $100 billion total program cost, each of the planned 400 deployed missiles would cost $250 million apiece—all to sit mutely in their silos for decades or else unleash intolerable nuclear destruction.
- A new ICBM is unnecessary. As sea-based nuclear weapons have allowed for a stronger deterrent due to their invulnerability and undetectability, ICBMs have become obsolete—especially given that development of new nuclear submarines and bombers are also underway this decade.
- A new ICBM is dangerous. Land-based ICBMs are always on high-alert status, putting extreme pressure on the president to quickly order a launch if there are indications of an incoming adversary strike against the missiles’ vulnerable silos. Land-based ICBMs not only increase the likelihood of sliding into nuclear war over a false alarm, but they also explicitly invite adversaries to consider a nuclear first strike against the American heartland—a dangerous strategic rationale that endangers both American lives and our shared environment.