Hoeven Working to Ensure Replacement for the Minuteman III Stays on Track

Senator Leads Bipartisan Group in Urging Defense Secretary to Prevent Delays for GBSD Program, Secured Increased Funding to Keep Effort Ahead of Schedule

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week led a bipartisan group of senators in urging Defense Secretary Mark Esper to prevent any delays for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which will replace the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The group highlighted the continued nuclear ambitions of the nation’s adversaries, stressing that whether or not there are any modifications to the GBSD acquisition approach, the program must be delivered on time to ensure the U.S. nuclear forces remain a credible deterrent. 

Hoeven serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee and the ICBM Coalition, where he has worked to advance the modernization of the nuclear triad, including the missiles housed at the Minot Air Force Base. Accordingly, the senator helped secure $660 million for the GBSD in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding legislation, $65 million above the administration’s request to help ensure the effort stays ahead of schedule. Further, Hoeven worked on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Committee to provide $112 million for the W87-1, the warhead that will be fielded on the GBSD.

“Each leg of the triad provides essential capabilities that help ensure we can respond to any crisis or threat,” Hoeven said. “The Minuteman III has operated well beyond its intended service life, has grown too expensive to maintain and will be unable to overcome the defenses being developed by dangerous regimes around the world. That’s why we are calling on Secretary Esper to avoid any disruptions or delays for the ICBM replacement, and we are committed to providing the funding he needs to be successful in that effort.”

In addition to the GBSD program, Hoeven has helped advance the following priorities in the FY2020 appropriations bills to support the nation’s nuclear missions:

  • $712.5 million for the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) that flies on the B-52, as well as $899 million to extend the life of the W80 warhead it will carry.
  • $330 million for upgrades to the B-52, including the development of new engines
  • Nearly $171 million to replace the UH-1N Huey helicopters that provide security for the ICBM silos.
  • Full support of the administration’s requirements for restoring the nation’s plutonium pit production capacity. A shortage of usable pits could undermine the development of the W87-1 and future warhead programs.

The full text of the group’s letter can be found here, which in addition to Hoeven, was signed by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).