The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a four-year, $39.7 million contract to design, develop, test, and qualify a replacement payload transporter system for the Minuteman III ICBM fleet, announced the company on Nov. 1. The existing payload transporter is nearing the end of its design life, states the company’s release. “The replacement transporter will provide an immediate improvement in security and prevent potential supportability impacts from the aging system currently in use,” said Mark Bishop, Northrop Grumman’s program manager for the payload transporter replacement. The company is the prime contractor for sustaining the Minuteman III fleet, which the Air Force expects to operate out to 2030. (See also Getting to 2030.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.