U.S. Air Force Struggles with Over-Budget Sentinel ICBM Replacement Program

The United States Air Force is in the process of modernizing its nuclear defense by replacing the aging Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the new Sentinel missiles. The initial projection for the Sentinel program was $96 billion, but costs have risen to $130 billion, leading to a Nunn-McCurdy breach that necessitates a detailed review by the Department of Defense and Congress. Despite the challenges, including technological complexity, real estate acquisitions, and potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities, the triad of nuclear defense—land-based ICBMs, submarines, and bombers—is deemed essential by military experts and the office of the Secretary of Defense.

  • The U.S. Air Force is replacing the aging Minuteman ICBMs with new Sentinel missiles.
  • Minuteman missiles, originally designed for a 10-year lifespan, have been in service for nearly 60 years.
  • The Sentinel program has exceeded its budget, currently estimated at $130 billion, a 37% increase over initial projections.
  • ICBMs are a key element of the U.S.’s nuclear triad, which also includes submarines and bombers.
  • Upgrades to the Sentinel missiles include carbon composite bodies and a design that facilitates easier future upgrades.
  • Modernizing the ICBM silos and infrastructure involves complex real estate transactions on privately owned land.
  • There are concerns that the Sentinel’s advanced technology could introduce new cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
  • A Nunn-McCurdy breach has occurred, requiring a detailed review of the program by the Department of Defense and Congress.
  • Military experts and defense officials argue for the necessity of maintaining all three legs of the nuclear triad.
  • The Pentagon review of the Sentinel program is expected to be completed by summer 2024.

The Wall Street Journal is an American business and economic-focused international daily newspaper based in New York City. The Journal is published six days a week by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp.

AllSides Media Bias Rating: Center

Official website:

Original video here.

This summary has been generated by AI.