The $96-billion Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile programme is struggling again and could become even more expensive

By: Maksim Panasovskyi | 15.11.2023, 20:23
The $96-billion Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile programme is struggling again and could become even more expensive

Sentinel is one of the most important and complex US military programmes. This was reported by US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. The project is once again experiencing difficulties.

Here's What We Know

The secretary said he was more nervous about Sentinel than he was about the B-21 Raider nuclear bomber, which made its maiden flight last week. Both programmes are part of the modernisation of the US nuclear triad and both are being handled by Northrop Grumman.

Frank Kendall declined to go into detail about the problems the intercontinental ballistic missile has encountered. He only said the scale of the programme, which includes infrastructure development, civil engineering and Sentinel production, had become a challenge.

The cost of the Sentinel programme is estimated at $96 billion, but that is not the limit. Frank Kendall said the intercontinental ballistic missile that will replace the Minuteman III could become even more expensive as it progresses.

The US Air Force has 400 Minuteman IIIs in service in 450 silos over an area of about 50,000 square kilometres. The military service would like to receive Sentinel in 2029, but according to a June estimate by the Joint Accountability Office, adoption would take place in the third quarter of 2030.

The new intercontinental ballistic missile will receive the MK21A combat module (reentry vehicle). Lockheed Martin recently received almost $1bn for production. The LGM-35A Sentinel will be able to deliver an upgraded W87-1 nuclear warhead to a range of more than 10,000 kilometres.

Source: Defence News