The Air Force is nearing completion of plans for the next generation land-based strategic nuclear missiles that could be deployed on difficult-to-locate mobile launchers or in tunnels.
According to an updated Congressional Research Service report published last week, the road- and rail-mobile missile concepts were outlined in a contract proposal two years ago produced by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.
“The Mobile concept employs a new ICBM on a transporter erector launcher (TEL),” the Air Force contracting document says. “The systems would be located on government land and be capable of deploying on- or off-road.”
The new missiles are needed to replace the arsenal of 450 Minuteman IIIs and would put the United States in the same league with China and Russia. Both countries are deploying new and more advanced road-mobile missiles with multiple warheads.
The Air Force is considering development of a new missile that would be silo-based but designed so that it could be deployed on a mobile launcher in the future, a congressional defense expert said.
The Air Force and the contractor Orbital ATK conducted a ground test of a new solid rocket motor for use in the future ICBMs, the company said in a statement Wednesday, noting that the motor test demonstrated “new advanced technologies.”
The U.S. government in the past rejected deploying mobile missiles, a basing mode considered more survivable in a nuclear conflict than the current silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
The new road-mobile ICBM would be built so it could move to avoid being targeted and “therefore, a key feature will be the speed at which the TEL can depart the operating base when required,” the proposal reads.
The new ICBM will be armed with one or two existing warheads and the transporter must be capable of traveling on roads and unpaved surfaces. The control system for the missile would be either fixed or mobile.
The Air Force also considered a rail-mobile ICBM that would be stored in tunnels.
“The tunnel concept mode operates similar to a subway system but with only a single transporter/launcher and missile dedicated to a given tunnel,” the Air Force said. “The vehicle moves at random down the length of the tunnel. The tunnel is long enough to improve survivability but leaving enough room to permit adequate ‘rattle space’ in the event of an enemy attack.”
The missile rail cars would be self-propelled and remotely-controlled, with launch portals inside the tunnels at regular intervals that could be used to raise the missile and fire it through an opening.
“During an attack, the launcher vehicle will need protection from ground shock,” the document says.
Other options call for upgrading current Minuteman IIIs, or building a new silo-based ICBM to replace it.
However, Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick said in news reports last summer three options were being considered: keeping Minuteman IIIs through 2075; building a new silo-based ICBM; and deploying a mix of upgraded Minuteman IIIs and the new road-mobile missile.
The project is called the Ground-based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) and the outline of the future ICBM will be announced in the coming weeks.
U.S. Strategic Command commander Adm. Cecil Haney told reporters Oct. 22 the Minuteman III replacement current is the focus of an “analysis of alternatives” study that will then produce a request for proposal to industry, possibly before the end of the year.
The congressional report said the government will spend $348 billion between 2015 and 2024 on nuclear forces.
Merced attacker on terror list?
The FBI won’t comment on whether the man who stabbed four people at a University of California, Merced class Nov. 4 was on a list of known terrorists.
Two students were injured in the knife attack along with a student adviser and university contractor.
The attacker was identified as student Faisal Mohammad, a radical Muslim who was shot by police shortly after the incident. An Islamic State flag was subsequently found in his belongings.
The Merced Country News, quoting unidentified law enforcement sources, reported Nov. 10 that Mohammad was on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List and that he was a topic of discussion during an FBI briefing for Merced Country law enforcement leaders.
The report said the FBI held a briefing on terrorism six months ago.
“At this meeting several suspected terrorist with ISIS links were said to be here in Merced County,” the newspaper reported. “Names and photos were presented, including one of Faisal Mohammad.”
The FBI suspected terrorists were planning an attack on UC Merced but lack details, the newspaper said.
Dave Joly, a spokesman for the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, said the center does not disclose the identities of those on the watch list. “I realize the individual you are inquiring about is deceased,” he said. “But I have provided you all of the information I am able to.”
Defend the South’s ‘God & Guts’
Ilario Pantano is the true-blue New Yorker who gave up his Manhattan trader’s lifestyle to join the Marine Corps, his personal response to al Qaeda striking America on Sept. 11, 2001.
In Iraq, he shot and killed two Iraqi jihadis in the notorious Triangle of Death southwest of Baghdad. The Marine Corps charged him with murder. Legal defense ace Charles Gittins eviscerated the government’s case. It was self-defense. Kill or be killed by Sunni insurgents.
Mr. Pantano resigned from the Corps, but not from his growing Southern roots in North Carolina. He wrote a war memoir, “Warlord,” ran for Congress as a Republican, and is now the state’s top Veterans Affairs director in Raleigh.
But that doesn’t mean his powder is dry.
He is out with a new book on how the South, and its values of God, guns and country, helped defeat the British and win American independence. It is also about the fact that few know about these crucial battles.
Why? Because the liberal media, liberal historians and liberal Hollywood all paint a picture of the constant degradation of the modern South, the South of growing populations and economies.
“Grand Theft History: How Liberals Stole Southern Valor in the American Revolution” tells the story of battles fought in the Carolinas that played a pivotal role in war for American independence. Yet, kids hear little about these victories.
“There once was a time when all Americans knew of the Southern colonists’ valor, and their critical role in our freedom,” Mr. Pantano writes. “Yet today, Moores Creek, Sullivan’s Island and other Southern battles that I will detail have been virtually eliminated from modern texts.
“The deliberate omission and whitewashing of the South’s role in America’s founding isn’t accidental. It is part of an elaborate effort to undermine a regional influence by eroding the cultural foundations.”
Mr. Pantano told Inside the Ring, “We expose the systematic elimination of Southern valor from contemporary American history and we take inventory of the damage to the Southern cultural institutions of God, guns and guts.”
There you have it: a kid from Hell’s Kitchen sticking up for North Carolina.
• Staff reporter Rowan Scarborough contributed to this column. Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter at @BillGertz.