back to article Northrop Grumman wins $13.3bn contract with US Air Force to kick off Minuteman III ICBM replacement

Northrop Grumman has won an eye-watering $13.3bn deal to update the US's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system. The effort will span 8.5 years and the US Air Force expects "initial operational capability" by 2029. The contract value only covers the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Ground …

  1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Boffin

    A job for SpaceX?

    Maybe they can design the world's first reusable ICBM!

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: A job for SpaceX?

      I wonder if cooling would be a problem?

      1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

        Re: A job for SpaceX?

        Yes, but only briefly.

  2. DS999

    No more floppy disks?

    The missile silos still use the really old school ones. No, not the ones you remember from the Apple II and first IBM PC. The REALLY old school 8" floppies! So yeah, they could do with a little modernization. But not too much hopefully!

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: No more floppy disks?

      Personally, I rather like the idea of nuclear missiles being entirely offline with guidence information being put on a storage medium that nobody can possibly tamper with. It's nice knowing that somebody couldn't feasibly be able to alter the guidence information with a laptop, and that firing the things requires two people with keys.

      If there is one area where excessive paranioa should be encouraged then it's securing nuclear armed ICBM's.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: No more floppy disks?

        Wasn't there a story that the floppy drives were replaced with emulators a few years ago?

  3. ITS Retired
    Mushroom

    Why do we need enemies to function?

    Why can't we get along with the rest of the world without trying dominate them?

    Other than for a few making obscene amounts of money, that is.

    1. mrobaer

      Re: Why do we need enemies to function?

      It's probably easier than convincing the entire world to cooperate with each other. That doesn't mean it's right, or that we should not be prepared to defend ourselves, friends, and apparently... our interests.

    2. Jim Mitchell

      Re: Why do we need enemies to function?

      Pacifism is a great idea, but only works if all of humanity adheres to it. Knowing my fellow man, and history, this will never happen. Ergo, having a big MIRVy nuclear stick is good idea. For us, not everybody else, of course.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why do we need enemies to function?

      Si vis pacem, para bellum

      Ancient Greeks and Romans understood this truism well, but 21st century tree huggers apparently still fail to grasp it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pleeeease.....

    Please don't tell me that this update means they are going to install Win 10 in the missiles. Or the ground based control systems......

    Please.....

    1. vonBureck
      Mushroom

      Re: Pleeeease.....

      No, they will put a web management interface on nuclear missiles. Nothing to worry about there.

      1. JanMeijer

        Re: Pleeeease.....

        Perhaps time for an update of the really big button that doesn't do anything?

      2. Tomislav
        Trollface

        Re: Pleeeease.....

        Yup, and Netgear will provide the said web management interface. :) IoT ICBMs will be all the rage in the coming years... :D

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Pleeeease.....

        Let's send ICBM in the clouds!

        hmm, maybe not.

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Pleeeease.....

      Don't worry, they're developing a custom AI system. They're calling it SkyAI since their first choice, SkyNet, was already (really) used by the NSA.

      In the words of Jeremy Clarkson "What could go wrong?"

      1. JanMeijer

        Re: Pleeeease.....

        Given that it would control ICMBs, shouldn't that custom system be called SkyHAI?

    3. eldakka Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Pleeeease.....

      Please don't tell me that this update means they are going to install Win 10 in the missiles.

      Just thank your lucky starts that since Boeing isn't involved its not going to get MCAS.

      1. Mark Exclamation
        Mushroom

        Re: Pleeeease.....

        Indeed! Two minutes after launch MCAS decides to point the nose down.......

  5. Mike Richards Silver badge

    BAE must be weeping

    ‘...Boeing selected as the prime contractor back in 1958. Full operational capability of the Minuteman III was declared in 1975,’

    17 years of development cheques from the Pentagon that probably had to be printed on extra-wide paper to hold all the zeroes. Surely not even the masters at BAE have been able to take so long in delivering something.

  6. Jay Lenovo

    Opposite wealth

    So basically 13 billion dollars could kill the world's population for about $1.75 per person.

    Fortunately, not actually using the product pays everything much more.

    Peace is good for renewals.

    1. david 12

      Re: Opposite wealth

      This is just the engineering development budget. Actually building missiles is a separate allocation.

      also... Boeing could bid for a control program sub-contract :) Recently demonstrated incompetence may damage their chances in that area too.

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Opposite wealth

      That’s seeder money to develop the actual bang bang launcher.

      Imagine what good all that money could genuinely do for the poor of this world, it’s sad it’s being wasted in this way.

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Opposite wealth

        "Imagine what good all that money could genuinely do for the poor of this world,"

        They'd probably just spend it frivolously on food, shelter, and medicine.

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Opposite wealth

      So basically 13 billion dollars could kill the world's population for about $1.75 per person.

      Looks like good value, have you seen the cost of AK47ammo recently?

      1. herman Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Opposite wealth

        AK47 is obsolete, but nevertheless, here is an interesting package: https://www.bratislavashootingclub.com/packages/kalashnikov-friends/

  7. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Why is this categorised as "Science"?

    Nothrop get a contract to design a missile. Technology maybe, but where's the "science"?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Why is this categorised as "Science"?

      As these missiles would be taken out by a first strike then probably "Offence" would be a suitable heading

  8. 0laf Silver badge

    Launching Minuteman missiles?

    There's an App for that. Or soon will be.

    I can't imagine they'll resist hooking the fucking things to the internet, and probably giving Trump the big red button as an app. Probably nearly identical to a Twitter 'post' symbol.

    1. David Lewis 2
      Mushroom

      Re: Launching Minuteman missiles?

      Alexa! Nuke {$CurrentMostNonFavoredNation}

      Who needs a button?

  9. Potemkine! Silver badge

    There will be many more tens of billions shovelled into the trough in which contractors' snouts will rummage.

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

    Dwight D. Eisenhower

  10. hoola Bronze badge

    $13 Billion

    That could have quite an impact in reducing the US's impact on Climate Change but would not grease as many favoured palms.

    Companies involved in military procurement have to ensure that the gravy train continues and the is totally reliant on big replacement cycles with tasty maintenance/upgrades built in. This is not just a US problem but worldwide, the difference is the US budgets tend to be more eye watering.

  11. RLWatkins

    This is already mature technology...

    ... and doesn't require any improvement.

    I mean, really. They're solid-fueled, require little maintenance, and can hit within a hundred yards of their programmed target. The ones on submarines require more maintenance, but otherwise meet similar specifications.

    They do what they're intended to do as well as it can be done. How, exactly, are we to "improve" upon these systems' ability to deliver nuclear warheads to a specific spot on the Earth?

  12. USER100

    Folly

    > 'Our nation is facing a rapidly evolving threat environment...'. True. 'and protecting our citizens with a modern strategic deterrent capability has never been more critical'. False.

    There is a greater threat from some terrorist/nerd/terrorist nerd making a bioweapon in his garage, and nuclear weapons are not a realistic way to counter that. Look at the damage covid's wrought, and it has a pretty low mortality rate.

    Even the world's worst dictators are not truly 'mad', in the medical sense. They're corrupt, greedy megalomaniacs, yes, but nuclear war is not something that would benefit them.

    The problem is how do you get rid of existing weapons? A country might say 'well if they've got them, we're having/keeping them'. It's the same with guns (worse actually, because state investment is needed for nuclear weapons but not for guns). They can't be uninvented. One can only hope that eventually enough people will see that a modern strategic deterrent capability is not worth the money (though this may take hundreds or perhaps thousands of years).

  13. Spherical Cow Bronze badge
    Joke

    They are also upgrading the launch password

    from

    00000000

    to

    000000000

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020