A US Air Force Propulsion Subsystem Support Contract (PSSC) with a $2.3 billion ceiling will provide engineering and maintenance services for Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), helping to extend the aging Cold War nuclear weapon system’s life for the next 18.5 years, Northrop Grumman said on Thursday.
“The Northrop Grumman propulsion systems team is addressing sustainment challenges of the missile propulsion system such as material obsolescence, associated hardware and/or equipment repair, and propellant aging-surveillance testing and analysis,” a company press release said.
The award has a $287 million base contract, with options totaling $2.3 billion over 18.5 years, the release said.
Minuteman III was originally manufactured in 1970 and has undergone multiple refurbishments to ensure viability. The new contract is to keep the system “on alert and ready until its end-of-life later next decade,” the release said
US nuclear modernization plans call for the Minuteman III to be replaced with a newer ICBM known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which is in the early stages of development, according to the Defense Department.
The transition is scheduled to begin when the GBSD achieves initial operating capability as early as 2029.