ICBM Modernization:

Status, Survivable Basing Issues, and Need To Reestablish a National Consensus

NSIAD-86-200: Published: Sep 19, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 1986.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO reported on the status of the land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Modernization Program, specifically: (1) the deployment of 50 Peacekeeper missiles in existing Minuteman silos; (2) research to determine a survivable basing mode for 50 additional Peacekeeper missiles or other missiles; and (3) the development of a small, single-warhead ICBM.

GAO found that: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD) began studies of a single-warhead small ICBM weighing 37,000 pounds because of a need for increased range and payload flexibility; (2) DOD is studying missile quantities, basing characteristics, and other factors that influence ICBM program costs; (3) the estimated life-cycle cost of 500 such missiles is between $44.8 billion and $52.1 billion; (4) preliminary testing on the missile launcher's ability to adequately survive a nuclear attack is promising; (5) DOD expects to select suitable land for basing by December 1986; and (6) DOD has not specified the ICBM survivability level or whether that level is achievable. GAO also found that: (1) the Air Force is studying eight alternative basing concepts to allow deployment of 50 additional Peacekeeper missiles; (2) the automated total life-cycle cost for the Peacekeeper program is $21 billion; (3) the life-cycle cost estimates for a combined force of 500 small ICBM's and 100 Peacekeepers range from $73 billion to $109 billion; (4) the cost estimate for alternative ICBM forces is not available; (5) DOD is studying the feasibility of developing mobile missiles weighing up to 75,000 pounds with the capability to carry two or three warheads; and (6) Congress linked the Peacekeeper deployment schedule to the small ICBM system.

Feb 24, 2021

Feb 22, 2021

Jan 21, 2021

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 14, 2021

Jan 12, 2021

Dec 10, 2020

Dec 2, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here