Air Force Secretary Voices Concerns Over LGM-35A Sentinel Program
Air Force Grapples with Sentinel Adaption Obstacles
Secretary of the US Air Force, Frank Kendall, voiced concerns about the development of the future LGM-35A Sentinel nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), stating that the program is facing challenges and additional costs. Speaking at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank, Kendall emphasized the complexity of the Sentinel program, which involves massive infrastructure improvements and other related work.
The Sentinel program aims to replace the Air Force's existing LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBMs with the new LGM-35A Sentinels starting in the 2030s. Currently, there are 400 Minuteman III missiles deployed in silos across five states.
According to a Pentagon report released earlier this year, the estimated cost to acquire the full complement of LGM-35A missiles and associated infrastructure work is around $100 billion. Additionally, the projected cost to operate and maintain the Sentinels until the end of their expected lifecycle in the 2070s is estimated to be $264 billion.
Secretary Kendall highlighted the significance of the Sentinel program, calling it one of the largest and most complex efforts ever undertaken by the Air Force. He stressed that failure is not an option, emphasizing the need for successful development and implementation.
During the same event, Secretary Kendall expressed cautious optimism about the B-21 Raider stealth bomber program. The pre-production Raider recently completed its inaugural flight, marking a significant milestone. Kendall stated that he is hopeful the program will stay on schedule and meet its current cost targets.
The B-21 Raider, an advanced stealth bomber, is expected to play a crucial role in the Air Force's future capabilities. Its successful development and deployment will enhance the nation's strategic deterrence and global reach.
As the Air Force continues to grapple with the challenges of the Sentinel program, Secretary Kendall's remarks shed light on the importance of overcoming obstacles and ensuring the program's success. The Air Force remains committed to modernizing its nuclear capabilities and maintaining a strong deterrent posture.
With the development of the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM moving forward, the Air Force is poised to enter a new era of nuclear deterrence. Despite the hurdles faced, the commitment to national security and the drive for innovation will guide the Air Force in realizing its vision for a secure and technologically advanced future.