HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force will pay Lockheed Martin what could be nearly a half-billion dollars to continue maintaining and developing systems for the Department of Defense’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., a division of the Lockheed Martin Corp. based out of Jefferson County, Colorado, and the work associated with it will take place at ICBM facilities at Hill Air Force Base and in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
The initial value of the contract is $109 million for engineering and maintenance work on the warhead re-entry vehicles for the Minuteman III ICBM, but Lockheed spokeswoman Lynn Fisher said options in the contract for performance and additional work years make the total potential contract value $452 million.
Doug Graham, vice president of ICBM and advanced programs at Lockheed, said the company has a 50-year partnership with the Air Force and its ICBM enterprise. The company is currently working with the Air Force to support its refurbishment activities at Hill.
The Department of Defense has a current stash of 450 land-based ICBM missiles stored in silos across the western United States. The Pentagon is in the process of removing 50 those missiles from launch silos as part of a plan to bring the U.S. into compliance with a 2011 “New START” arms control treaty with Russia.
The resulting launch-ready total of 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles would be the lowest deployed ICBM total since the early 1960s. The 50 unarmed ICBM missiles will eventually be stored at Hill.
Although the missiles will be unarmed while they are kept at Hill, they will be stored in such a way that they are reusable and the silos the missiles are removed from are planned to be kept in “warm” status to maintain weapon system integrity.
The new contract is part of the Air Force’s Future ICBM Sustainment and Acquisition Construct, which is designed to ensure a safe, secure and reliable Minuteman III weapon system through 2030.
Lockheed Martin has been the principal designer, manufacturer and sustainer of Minuteman III reentry systems since the 1960s. The corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.