The United States Air Force has initiated a program to replace its current arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with an entirely new missile force known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). The GBSD’s price tag continues to grow beyond initial expectations, with the program on track to become one of the country’s most expensive nuclear-related budgetary items over the next decade.
The GBSD is risky, draws funding away from more urgent priorities, and will exacerbate the Pentagon’s budget crisis. A better approach would be to extend the life of the current ICBM force (the Minuteman III) in the near term, while spreading the costs of nuclear modernization out over the longer term. This approach will ensure that the United States can field a capable ICBM force on a continuous basis without compromising other critical security priorities.