Hoeven: DOD to Maintain Full ICBM Fleet Following Review of Sentinel Program

Senator Worked to Secure Support of Key Military Officials to Ensure Effective Nuclear Deterrent, Supporting Upgrades for Minot’s Dual Nuclear Mission

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released the results of a review of the Sentinel program, which concluded that it remains vital to national security for the U.S. to modernize the full intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet. Hoeven has been working as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee to secure the support of key DoD officials to continue modernizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent, especially the ICBMs that make up the land-based leg of the nuclear triad, while the review process was ongoing.

Hoeven continued these efforts today, having discussed the results of the review, also called a Nunn-McCurdy review, with Under Secretary of Defense William LaPlante, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force James Slife, Under Secretary of the Air Force Melissa Dalton and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Andrew Hunter. The senator:

  • Reinforced his support for the conclusion reached by DoD under the Nunn-McCurdy review.
  • Stressed the critical role of the ICBM fleet in deterring emerging challenges from adversaries like Russia and China.
  • Reiterated the importance of maintaining all of the existing ICBM missiles and silos.
  • Called on DoD officials to work with him as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee to:
    • Find ways to accelerate the schedule for deploying the Sentinel.
    • Identify additional cost savings.

“The broad deployment of ICBMs across the U.S. creates a real tactical challenge for our adversaries, like Russia and China, and gives us an edge as we work to counter any new capabilities being developed by these nations. That’s why we made it clear throughout this Nunn-McCurdy review that the ICBM fleet is essential to our national security. The review’s results and DoD’s resulting decision to maintain the full ICBM fleet drive that point home,” said Hoeven. “Moving forward, we will continue to invest in all of our nuclear modernization programs, while working with DoD to identify and advance solutions to provide cost savings without undermining the effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent.”

Today’s discussion follows Hoeven’s efforts with officials such as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin, among others. In a letter to Secretary Austin last month, as well as recent Senate committee hearings with Brown, Kendall and Allvin, Hoeven outlined his priorities for the ICBM leg of the triad and made the case for the robust deployment of ICBMs.

Prior to this, Hoeven worked to secure full funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 to support the nation’s nuclear modernization programs, including:

  • The Sentinel ICBM program.
  • Updates to the B-52 bomber and its engine.
  • Developing the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO) carried on the B-52.
  • Warheads for the new ICBM and LRSO.
  • Continued procurement of the Grey Wolf helicopters to replace the Vietnam-era Huey helicopters that currently provide security for the country’s missile silos.