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 underground silos in 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 funding for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missile.
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 September 2020, the Air Force awarded a $13.3 billion sole-source contract to Northrop Grumman for the engineering and manufacturing development of the GBSD with only one bidder. Lockheed Martin was excluded from the competition and Boeing dropped out. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (WA-9) called the decision to move forward with the contract with only one bidder “very troubling.”
The GBSD project should be stopped because:
- A new ICBM is costly. An independent Pentagon study estimated that GBSD procurement will eventually cost $85-$150 billion, with total program costs around $260 billion. The lack of contract competition will likely escalate total costs even further. Each of the planned 400 deployed missiles would cost $250 million—all to sit mutely in their silos for decades or vaporize human beings by the millions.
- A new ICBM is unnecessary. As the accuracy of sea-based ballistic missiles has improved, ICBMs have become obsolete. And the current missiles could be refurbished at a much lower cost.
- 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 the survival of the planet.