The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force

The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force

Lauren Caston
Robert S. Leonard
Christopher A. Mouton
Chad J. R. Ohlandt
S. Craig Moore
Raymond E. Conley
Glenn Buchan
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force
    Book Description:

    The authors assess alternatives for a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) across a broad set of potential characteristics and situations. They use the current Minuteman III as a baseline to develop a framework to characterize alternative classes of ICBMs, assess the survivability and effectiveness of possible alternatives, and weigh those alternatives against their cost.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7628-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Roles of Strategic Nuclear Forces
    (pp. 1-14)

    The recent round of arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia and the subsequent ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by the U.S. Senate may make it seem like an odd time to discuss the importance of modernizing America’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force. In fact, the discussion could not be timelier. At the same time that New START pushes ICBM force levels to their lowest point in decades, the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) identifies a variety of emerging situations where strategic forces might play a role in deterring adversaries, stabilizing regions, and...

  10. CHAPTER TWO A Framework for ICBM Design Decisions
    (pp. 15-20)

    To begin thinking about the many different systems and subsystems that could make up an ICBM, we develop a framework consisting of five categories for classifying alternatives: basing,¹ propulsion, boost, reentry, and payload. This framework accounts for steps in delivering a weapon from the continental United States (CONUS) to intercontinental distances. This five-category approach will help us differentiate and examine ICBM alternatives. We find it helpful to focus on key design parameters and potential capability trade-offs without being overly constraining. The one underlying assumption we do make is that a U.S. ICBM will be CONUS-based and deliver a payload at...

    (pp. 21-48)

    The quest to find suitable ICBM basing modes began more than 50 years ago with the development of the Minuteman system. The objective was to set the survivability of the U.S. ICBM force to some “acceptable” level, that is, to make the cost of attacking the ICBM force “prohibitive” to an attacker. Though survivability and the notion of stability—disincentivizing first use—are inextricably linked, our assessment of ICBM basing is focused on survivability. While a nonsurvivable system is unstable because it gives an attacker incentive to strike first, the converse is not necessarily true. Making a survivable system does...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Effectiveness and Lethality
    (pp. 49-82)

    To hold a target at risk, ICBMs must first be able to deliver a payload to that target, then produce the intended effects to destroy or sufficiently damage it. Ever since the original Minuteman was developed and fielded as a three-stage, solid rocket missile in the early 1960s, the first part of this sequence—range—has been determined largely by a range-payload equation given by the specific impulse of solid rocket fuels and the dry weight of the missile. A desired payload can be tracked through this equation to give range and missile size trade-offs. ICBM effects have always been...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE The Cost of ICBM Alternatives
    (pp. 83-114)

    Previous chapters have discussed a broad range of possible design and employment considerations for future ICBM capability. The requirements specified in the future AoA will determine the specific choices to be evaluated. In this chapter, we explore the costs associated with a range of possible options that fall into six broad categories. Our analysis draws from many prior studies and official documents. The intent is to include minimal original cost estimation, thereby minimizing the time needed to complete the work. An additional benefit is increased acceptance of the findings by all the relevant stakeholders because the cost estimates herein were...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions
    (pp. 115-120)

    U.S. strategic nuclear forces may be called on to play a role in a widening set of security situations. ICBMs in particular may find some new relevance in extending deterrence and assuring allies because they present a serious threat to newly emerged nuclear states that choose to base nuclear weapons and their means of delivery in the open or on alert. If these challenges demand more from the U.S. ICBM force than Minuteman III can deliver in a cost-effective way, a number of different alternatives are worth consideration. The upcoming ICBM AoA will have to assess these alternatives across a...

  15. APPENDIX Manpower Thresholds
    (pp. 121-148)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 149-156)