ICBM Modernization:

Minuteman III Guidance Replacement Program Has Not Been Adequately Justified

NSIAD-93-181: Published: Jun 25, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 1993.

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GAO assessed the adequacy of the Air Force's plans for sustaining an operationally effective Minuteman III weapon system through 2020, focusing on the status of the guidance replacement program.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force has not justified proceeding with engineering and manufacturing development of the Minuteman III guidance electronics replacement program; (2) program assessments have not indicated current or future degradation of missile guidance system-level performance; (3) the most troublesome electronic circuitry concerns are being corrected and the severity of remaining anomalies is not apparent; (4) the deterioration of Minuteman II electronic components may not be relevant to Minuteman III performance, since many problems have been corrected in the development and manufacture of Minuteman III; and (5) the Air Force has not finalized its justification and plans for replacing inertial instrumentation because of uncertainty over treaty ratification and implementation and the capabilities of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress has fully funded the program.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider either not appropriating fiscal year 1994 funds for engineering and manufacturing development of the guidance electronics replacement program or limiting the Air Force's authority to obligate appropriations for the program until studies and analyses have been completed that support the need to proceed with that effort.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has concurred with DOD plans for proceeding with the Guidance Replacement Program, as evidenced by its decision to fully fund the program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should delay a decision to begin engineering and manufacturing development of the Minuteman III guidance electronics replacement program until sufficient analytical evidence has been developed to clearly demonstrate that the start of that effort is justified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force


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