STRATCOM Chief: Aging ICBMs Must Be Replaced, Not Refurbished

“Let me be very clear: you can not life-extend Minuteman III, right? It is getting past the point where it is cost-effective to life-extend Minuteman III. We’re getting to the point where you can’t do it at all,” Adm. Charles Richard, the head of U.S. Strategic Command or STRATCOM, told reporters on Tuesday.

“I don’t understand frankly how someone in a think tank who doesn’t have their hands on the missile, looking at the parts, the cables, all of the pieces inside that. I was out at Hill Air Force Base looking at this. That thing is so old that in some cases the drawings don’t exist anymore.

Or where we do have drawings they’re six generations behind the industry standard. There’s not only not anybody working that can understand them, but they’re also not alive anymore,” he added.

“This nation has never before had to face the prospect of two, peer, nuclear-capable adversaries who have to be deterred differently and actions to deter one have an impact on the other. This is way more complicated than it used to be.”
Newer missiles would also be less vulnerable to hacking, a growing concern as the U.S. government grapples with a supply chain hack from the Russian government that has affected multiple agencies.

“One of the biggest pieces is in its cyber resilience… We will replace a 60-year-old, basically a circuit switch system with a modern cyber defendable up-to-current standards command and control system. Just to pace the cyber threat alone, GBSD is a necessary step forward.”

Richard was questioned about the possible fate of the New START treaty, which expires in February.

Richardson said that he has met with members of Biden’s team. The meetings, he said, “have gone well.”

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