|FAS | Nuke | Guide | USA |||| Index | Search | Join FAS|
Status: No longer operational. Last silo imploded on December 15, 1997.
In service since 1965, the Minuteman "F" is a three stage, solid propellant, intercontinental ballistic missile. Because solid propellant is so stable in storage, the missile can be stored almost indefinitely and yet be ready to launch on short notice. This ICBM has a range of over 7,000 nautical miles and carries a single nuclear warhead. Although 450 missiles were fielded at one time, the Minuteman II has been decommissioned and the missiles disassembled.
On 2 October 1963, shortly after the first model "A" and "B" Minuteman I squadrons achieved operational status, Headquarters USAF issued Annex A to Specific Operational Requirement 171 which established a requirement for the Minuteman II ICBM (Model "F"). A more advanced missile than either model of the Minuteman I, the "F" model incorporated a new, larger second-stage, improved guidance system, a greater range and payload capacity, and an increased capability to survive the effects of nuclear blast. In view of the numerous advantages of the Minuteman II, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara approved the Minuteman Force Modernization Program on 8 November 1963. The project entailed the eventual replacement of the entire force of deployed Minuteman I ICBMs, 150 "A" and 650 "B" models, with Minuteman IIs.
To prepare for the emplacement of the newer model Minuteman II ICBM, it was necessary to completely retrofit the original Minuteman I launch facilities, launch control facilities, and associated ground equipment. The Minuteman Force Modernization Program began at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, on 7 May 1966 when the first flight of ten model "B" Minuteman missiles were removed from their silos at the 509th Strategic Missile Squadron. On 1 February 1965, Headquarters SAC activated the 447th SMS at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, making it the seventeenth Minuteman squadron and the first to be equipped with "F" model missiles. Fourteen months later on 1 April 1966, SAC activated the fourth Minuteman II, and the twentieth and last Minuteman squadron, the 564th SMS, at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. Once the 564th SMS achieved operational status on 21 April 1967, the deployment of the programmed force of 1,000 Minuteman ICBMs was completed.