Why the Air Force’s ICBM infrastructure needs an upgrade

Some people may assume that the Air Force’s new Strategic Ground Deterrence (GBSD) is purely focused on an accelerated replacement of four hundred or more intercontinental (ICBM) scattered over large areas of the United States, but the effort is in reality much more complete and far-reaching.

“GBSD is a radical change, from the real missile to the silos that house missiles to launch centers that house missile combat teams that stay on alert 24/7, Greg Manuel, vice president and general manager from the Northrop Grumman area, said to National Interest.

In addition to the design and construction of the missiles themselves, prototypes of which already exist, the joint Northrop Grumman-Air Force effort includes a rebuild of the entire ICBM infrastructure to include new launch facilities and launch centers. , as well as new command and control software and technologies. . Northrop Grumman is rebuilding up to 450 launch facilities and building the first prototype components for the ICBM, which will start up for the first time in 2023.

“We are well advanced in building our first components of the current ICBM. The GBSD program is more than just a missile, but a recapitalization of the whole system, ”Manuel said.

Building the entire infrastructure, which includes hardware, advanced computing and new generations of software, is critical to the performance and durability of the weapon system for decades to come. The Minuteman III are getting older. This is technology from the 1960s supported by obsolete equipment. This is why Northrop Grumman, the Air Force and several companies in the defense industry have continued to work on strengthening their networks and improving the reliability of their cybersystems to prevent “hacking” or ” enemy intrusions ”into any type of launch protocol. Silos are also important, as they house weapons and would ultimately be the key to propulsion.

Advanced command and control will likely be securely integrated with ‘higher authorities’ to shorten the delay or notification curve between when high-level decision-makers learn of the existence of a threat and when systems operate. reactive weapons are put on alert. To achieve this, spatial connectivity must be paired with secure and fortified ground control stations capable of rapidly integrating with ICBMs during an “unannounced” attack.

Weapons systems are becoming increasingly cyber dependent, which is why command and control networks and computer processing must be strengthened to protect new ICBMs. After all, advanced connectivity can bring unprecedented benefits while also presenting some risks. Perhaps this is the reason why the hardware and software infrastructure that supports the new ICBMs is essentially being rebuilt with scalable and secure technologies.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National interest. Osborn previously served in the Pentagon as a highly trained expert in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air presenter and military specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a visiting military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters

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