Talk:LGM-30 Minuteman

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Should it be mentioned[edit]

Should it be mentioned that during the terminal phase, when it has a speed of 7 Km/s that the weight of 36,030 KG would mean it has a kinetic energy level of approximately 882 Gigajoules (882,735 Megajoules)?

That's not correct math... Only the third stage (burnt out, without any propellant left) and the MIRV bus reach that velocity. And the kinetic energy of the bus and burnt out third stage aren't useful or relevant - they will burn up in the atmosphere. Kinetic energy of the actual warhead mass might be somewhat useful, for example if you were thinking of kinetic energy / non-nuclear warhead options, but that value isn't a normally quoted value in industry or analyst writeups. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 22:49, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Page title[edit]

Other missile's pages have the exact name (like LGM-118A Peacekeeper) as page title. Titles like "Peacekeeper (missile)" redirect there. Should this be changed here? Ospalh 14:25, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Why is it not mentioned that mach 23 is TERMINAL phase speed. It creatres the illusion that american missile has thta speed as avergae, which its impossible. I made corrections, please do not delete them. There is no room for argument here, 40 tons missile can not go mach 23 average, hence 15000 mph is terminal phase speed only.

Also, 15000 mph is not mach 23. It comes out to mach 20.2. jrwst36 17:31, 13 October 2008

== Please Add this ==in "ir." -- 02:14, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia: WikiProject Rockes may provide guidance for developing this article. Rmhermen 20:07, Jan 7, 2004 (UTC)

There is a terminal velocity of friction in "air". At higher altitudes, this friction is reduced dramatically, on an exponential formula depending on astompheric conditions. Ask a'bout atmospheric conditions, and density of such. This article might be misleading because mach speed is simply a variable, depending on altitude,, and the density of the atmosphere at altitude.



Article says

   Most are capable of a near 100-Megaton blast.

But this sounds too big? Most warheads have a yield less than 0.5Mt. Number of warheads, about 10??? So surely this figure should be more like '5-Megaton' at most? Where does the 100Mt come from? 19:34, 8 January 2007 (UTC) David MacKay

On Dec 31, an anonymous editor vandalized the article, adding that phrase, and nobody noticed until today when you did. I have this article on my watch list but didn't catch it. I have fixed the vandalism. The largest single warhead on a Minuteman would be the enhanced W87, at 475 kilotons. The alternate combinations of three W78 warheads at 335 to 350 kilotons each, for roughly a one megaton total load, or three W62 warheads at 170 kilotons each for around a half megaton. Georgewilliamherbert 01:15, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Should be LGM-30G instead of LGM-30 to standardize it with LG-118A

 Actually Minuteman existed as first the LGM-30F and then the LGM-30G.
   You're right.  I mean, there's no doubt that it existed as both 30F and 30G, as well as
   the 30A and 30B. The difference between the PK and the MM being that the PK has only been
   the A model, as opposed to multiple models, as I think you meant.  Cory

My problem with the article is that the missile is described as being a GUIDED missile. "ballastic" and "guided" are mutually incompatable terms. If a missile is ballastic, by definition, it is incapable of being guided and vice versa. Minuteman used a targeting program that took into account a variety of variables to determine thrust duration and staging neccessary to arrive on target. The target however was ordered by the Launch Control Officer PRIOR to takeoff. Although MM had a variety of sensors to moniter attitude and accelleration and could make minor course corrections based on its feedback circuts by utilizing standard mass\velocity\accelleration determinants -once it was launched it could not be guided to another target hence the "B" in ICBM; "ballistic".

  • The very term ICBM means "Intercontinental Ballistic Missile", all of which are guided during boost phase and ballistic (unguided) thereafter. So, how is there a problem? They are very definitely guided with exquisitely high precision. Targets are selected before launch and boost phase only lasts 3 minutes. It's not practical to change targets during a 3 minute boost. That doesn't mean they are not guided, just that the targets are predetermined. "Guided" does not refer only to missiles pursuing moving targets or missiles that change targets. You are seriously over-interpreting the term ballistic. A 25 minute flight with a 3 minute boost phase is ballistic for most, but not all, of the 25 minutes. It is guided for as long as is required and is therefore a guided missile.
 "silo-launched (L)"
 "surface-attack (G)"
 "guided missile (M)."
 It is inertially GUIDED, hence a guided missile.  Closed-loop guidance.  
 It's not ballistic until after this guided phase.  Cory

The entry is well written, however you need to remove the information about the third stage, as a former Minuteman Missile tech I must informe you that that information is classified and can result in criminal charges being filed

The article says:

   The Propulsion Replacement Program extends the life, maintains the performance, and improves the
   reliability of the operational ICBM force by replacing the old solid propellant boosters
   (downstages) with new “environmentally friendly” booster.

Is the "environmentally friendly" bit a joke? These are nuclear missiles what is the relevance of an environmentally friendly booster stage?! 02:41, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

Since the Minuteman program depends on periodic launches from Vandenberg AFB over the Pacific Ocean, "environmentally friendly" is important, because the good people of Lompoc, California near Vandy are entitled to breathable air during and after those test launches. Apart from that, less-toxic first stages would probably beat the test stand and its equipment up less. loupgarous 09:39, 21 July 2015 (UTC)


F.E. Warren has been listed as having 200 birds, but only three Squadrons. It's been 30 years, but I recall that it's 50 birds to a Squadron, like Malmstron. So isn't there a Squadron missing? As to above allegation of classified info, only someone that has signed the paper can be charged. If you get info from a public source, like Aviation Leak, er Week. You are off the hook. Ralph 31Jan06

There are no Minuteman in Vandenberg AFB stationed. Vandenberg is today only a test site.

I am also a former MM3 missile mechanic. The classroom discussion that discussed the stage termination scheme was unclassified, so I doubt that this is classified information. In addition, this was freely discussed by the Minot Boeing on-site rep in open area discussion.

But, unless I have incorrect information here, I think that the thrust termination scheme as currently written is in error. As I was taught, and as was supported by the tech rep, the method of third stage thrust termination is as follows: at time of desired thrust termination, two events happen in close time proximity: the third stage to PSRE linear charge detonates, which separates the third stage from the upper part. At the same time (or close to it, I don't remember the exact timing) the six thrust termination ports also open. Those were fired by linear charges and to make sure that the six opened at the same time, the cordite (or whatever it was, we always just called it cordite) were of the same length. The net effect of this was to open another avenue for the hot gasses to exit, and as the total area of the six ports was more than the nozzle throat, the result was in effect a retro firing. This not only effected a clean stage separation, but also served to back the third stage away from the PSRE/guidance section/payload bus. And, as is currently stated, this also served as a method of exact thrust termination, obviously very important with the mission involved.

Anyhow, that is how the training was presented and also how the tech rep said it worked. I've long since tossed my training manuals (which I think may have also agreeed with this) so cannot give a hard document for the above.

Comments? MacMullen_e chiming in... 341st E-Labian here. Malmstrom during late '70-early '80 did have 200 missiles assigned to the 10th, 12th, 490th and 564th missile squadrons. The 564 was the only MM-III during those years which made our jobs interesting as the 341st was the only base to work with both, at the time, weapon systems. The 564th is now de-commissioned and the remaining three squadrons are loaded with MM-III. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Macmullen e (talkcontribs) 02:58, 12 August 2016 (UTC)

Regards, 05:37, 22 August 2006 (UTC)Jim


F.E. Warren originally had four squadrons dedicated to Minuteman, but had to 'give up' one to the LGM-118A Peacekeeper system in the early 1980s (400th MS). At one time, the 400th *did* have Minuteman I and III missiles. Tdrss (1 Feb 06) Following the change to Peacekeeper, that squadron was disactivated due to the START II Treaty. Now FE Warren only has 3 operational Squadrons: 319th, 320th, and 321st Missile Squadrons.

Peacekeeper demise[edit]

I removed "This idea was evidently discarded because of security problems of having nuclear weapons rumble by neighborhoods and cities on railroad tracks." from the paragraph on Peacekeeper. I don't believe there was any serious plan to run missile trains through cities. In any case, the discussion belong in the Peacekeeper article. I also restored info on the third stage shutdown mechanism from the edit history. If the US Govt has concerns about the info being here, that are proper channels for communicating that.--agr 19:17, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Peacekeeper was originally intended to run on "racetracks" in the southwest US desert or USAFBs like Barksdale, Warren and Whiteman with lots of space for them, with the missiles being moved between hardened launch sites periodically. Of course, the hardened launch sites were less "hard" than existing silos, so the gain in force survivability was slight; the Russians could gain very good data on their locations either by overflights with satellites, "Open Skies" flights, or just buying the information from someone.
You're right, no serious plan existed to put ICBM launchers on the civilian rail system since the original deployment scheme for the Minuteman. There have been feasibility studies for small ICBMs such as "Midgetman" to be so deployed, but that never got far as far as I know. loupgarous 09:32, 21 July 2015 (UTC)


You are correct about the classification level on the thrust termination ports. I spoke with a representative of the OSI, and he confirmed that it was not classified information. On another note, Why, if the technology is not clasified, didn't they use TT ports on the shuttles solid boosters? It would provide a safety feature in case of accidental ignition during main engine tests as depicted in the Space Camp movie. 22:17, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Because in flight, the SRB's "drag" the ET behind them, after thrust termination they would shift to "hanging" off the ET and the resulting shift in structural loads would shred the ET and toss the Orbiter into the airstream where it would break up. (Which is essentially what happened to Challenger.) NASA looked at using a solid motor mounted to the Orbiter to power it clear, but even if it was used for final orbital insertion, it was too heavy.) 2601:8:9380:CCA:6DEF:C3FA:BAB2:9E6C (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 05:47, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Minuteman III LGM30G[edit]

In the paragraph titled Minuteman III (LGM-30G), there are a couple of items that should be corrected. The picture from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum shown is the complete NS20 guidance system, not the HDC-701 computer. Starting at the top center of the picture and moving clockwise the major components one can see are the Gyrostabilized Platform, the D37D computer, the P92A Amplifier, and the Missile Guidance Set Control. While Honeywell was indeed a second source to Autonetics for development of a computer, the Honeywell HDC-701 computer was never fielded and the D37D remained the NS20 guidance system computer until upgraded by the Guidance Replacement Program. In fact, obsolete electronics and increasing failures of the D37D, especially the wet slug tantalum capacitors, were a primary justification for approving the Guidance Replacement Program.Sscbm (talk) 19:47, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

SRV status[edit]

"The Single Reentry Vehicle (SRV) modification allows .." is cryptic. Has this been applied to all Minuteman IIIs, or what is the status of this program?--Patrick (talk) 08:02, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

End of Service?[edit]

First paragraph indicates "but it may be upgraded to stay in service until 2030." But under "current model" 4th paragraph, I see "As of 2007, USAF plans are to operate it until 2040."

What's correct here?

Any such dates must come from the American government. Obviously, the date can be changed.
The article now has the understandably vague phrase "at least 2030".

End Of Service Life[edit]

There are four dates in the page for the retirement of the MMIII - 2020, 2025, 2030, and 2040. Only one of these - 2020 - can I independently verify from a reputable source. As a USAF employee who frequently reads "USAF magazines", I know that the USAF plans on keeping the MMIII in service well beyond 2020 however I can't find anything that officially says that. The overall point is that you can't have four dates in the same article - it looks stupid - so someone needs to make a decision and do the edits/deletions. I'd do it, but I'm tired of being yelled at when making wholesale deletions like this. Ckruschke (talk) 21:03, 16 December 2010 (UTC)Ckruschke

National Historic Site - Misleading language[edit]

"The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota preserves a Launch Control Facility (D-01) and a launch facility (D-09) under the control of the National Park Service." I'm way past my bedtime where I am, but reading this I got the feeling the park service can launch missiles. I think what we want to say here is "...under the management of the National Park Service." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:38, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

No, because the Launch Control Facility and launch facility are empty of their Minuteman ICBM. If the US Air Force had transferred control of a LOADED Launch Control Facility and launch facility, then the term "control" would be worrisome. Since the National Park Service is not nuclear-armed (as far as I know, the Obama administration's bulk buy of 10mm assault submachineguns for that agency, among others, represents the most threatening thing in their arsenal) then no one is being misled about anything.
After all, if that Launch Control Facility and launch facility had been armed with a live Minuteman ICBM, there would also be no difference in meaning between "control" and "management." loupgarous 08:01, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Peacekeeper mislabeled as Minuteman III[edit]

The photograph identified as a Minuteman III in its silo appears to be mislabeled. Minuteman III has an ogival payload fairing. Minuteman III is also not a constant diameter. I believe the photo is a Peacekeeper ICBM, one of 50 that had been placed in Minuteman silos for a few years. Reading the reference material on the photo tends to suggest the photo was intended to be more about the person in it than about the missile. I believe the missile was just misidentified because it was in a Minuteman silo. Minuteman III fairings are painted, unlike the bare metal fairing of stacked cones in the photo. The fairing and constant diameter are characteristic of Peacekeeper, not MM III. I think this would be worth checking.Magneticlifeform (talk) 21:38, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

What is the real accuracy of Minuteman III?[edit]

I have seen the accuracy listed in the infobox change a few times. Once it was 120 meters, then it was 150 meters and now it is 200 meters. All Minuteman III missiles have the NS-20 guidance set, right? Does anyone know what the accuracy of this is? Moonshot926 (talk) 20:52, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

With modern methods, the accuracy is about + or - 1 meter and, hence, not important. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:00, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
The last open-source published figure I've read for Minuteman III RV accuracy is plus or minus 5 meters, which is still quite good enough to dig a buried ICBM or LCC out, or demolish any other enemy object we really wish destroyed within 30 minutes or less. loupgarous 08:07, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Russia appears zero times in this article[edit]

Due to the location of the launch silos, any foreseeable use of the Minuteman force would have them overfly Russia, even if targeted at other countries.[1]

How is that not relevant? Hcobb (talk) 13:25, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't matter because nowhere in the article is it asserted we don't intend for the entire throw weight of our Minuteman force not to land on Russian targets. No section on this article addresses targeting of the Minuteman force at all. I add that Russia is the single most probable nuclear threat to the United States of America, and has threatened to use nuclear weapons on the US homeland or above it in an EMP creation mode if we just placed ABMs in the Czech republic or Poland. loupgarous 08:32, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Chow, Eugene K. (January 20, 2014). "Why are all of America's nuclear missiles aimed at Russia?". THE WEEK Publications, Inc. Retrieved 23 January 2014.