For five decades, the Minuteman ICBM has served the nation well as the most affordable and responsive element of the U.S. nuclear TRIAD. It has secure command and control, high readiness rates, and low operating costs. The existence of the ICBM force provides critical protection for
the other legs of the U.S. deterrent. While the ICBM force has thus far survived defense cuts, a follow-on ICBM is needed, design skills are rapidly disappearing, and the solid rocket motor industrial base is shrinking. Maintenance of the nuclear TRIAD is critical, but it is clearly at risk,
despite the fact that both the Russians and Chinese are deploying new ICBMs and developing still more modern ones with the intent to deploy them.