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News

Northrop Grumman/Air Force Complete Guidance Upgrade Installations On Minuteman III ICBMs


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Northrop Grumman
: 14 March, 2008  (Technical Article)
Air Force Declares Full Operational Capability for Guidance Replacement
Program
With the installation of a modernized missile guidance set (MGS) delivered by
Northrop Grumman Corporation, the U.S. Air Force declared
full operational capability on Feb. 25 for the Minuteman III
inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) guidance replacement
program, a major milestone in the ICBM modernization effort

The MGS was installed by the 20th Air Force onto a Minuteman
III missile at Minot Air Force Base, N.D in January. Today, the entire
force of 450 land-based ICBMs is converted to the modernized MGS, known
as NS50.

The MGS upgrade is being performed under the ICBM Guidance
Replacement Program (GRP), a modernization effort aimed at replacing
and upgrading the 1970s-vintage electronics in the Minuteman III
missile, which have been determined to be unreliable in flight due to
aging effects. As a result of the new NS50 MGS, field reliability is
approximately double that of the old system. The new system is also
safer, and easier to maintain and support.

GRP is one of eight major ICBM upgrade programs managed by
prime contractor Northrop Grumman. In this role, the company is
modernizing and maintaining the reliability, safety, and security of
the nation's entire force of land-based Minuteman III missiles, under a
15-year effort awarded by the U.S Air Force in 1997. For the past ten
years, the company has successfully maintained force readiness while
implementing a series of complex upgrades that extend the missile's
service life through 2030.

'Significant progress has been made today in completing the
first step in meeting the Air Force's requirement to increase the
reliability and nuclear safety of the Minuteman III weapon system,'
said John Clay, vice president and general manager of the ICBM Prime
Integration Contract at Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector. 'The
Guidance Replacement Program has been a flagship program for Northrop
Grumman and its teammates and more significantly for our customer, the
United States Air Force. This major accomplishment could not have
occurred without the significant contributions of all parties involved,
especially the Air Force airmen responsible for installing each
guidance set onto the Minuteman III missile at each launch facility.'

Boeing Electronic Systems Missile Defense is a principal
teammate on GRP and produces the MGS for the program. Honeywell Space
Systems Division is a major subcontractor to Boeing and provides the
system's missile guidance computer.

Final GRP production deliveries are expected to be complete by
early 2009. These include approximately 200 more missile guidance sets
that will be used for future Minuteman III flight tests and spares. The
new NS50 has successfully flown on 23 Minuteman III flight test
missiles with no failures, providing high confidence that it meets its
in-flight reliability requirement.
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