The Air Force is nearing the release of a roadmap that lays out the necessary steps to keep the Minuteman III ICBM fleet viable out to 2030, according to Maj. Gen. Donald Alston, who heads the Air Staff’s strategic deterrence and nuclear integration office. “I expect next month that we are going to have a roadmap,” Alston said Wednesday during remarks at a National Institute for Public Policy conference in Arlington, Va. The document will show, “how far we can continue to sustain that system with whatever associated upgrade will be required,” he said. The Air Force deployed the first Minuteman III missile in June 1970. Currently it has three Minuteman wings, each with 150 operational missiles. The service has spent billions over the past decade or so on upgrades like guidance and propulsion improvements to extend the missile’s service life out to 2020 or beyond. Alston said those efforts have been “a great success story,” giving the nation “a very viable system.” Congress subsequently asked the Air Force to evaluate what would be necessary to keep the Minuteman missiles in service out to 2030. The roadmap, Alston said, will provide “more visibility into that.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.