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Will the New Sentinel ICBM Get Too Expensive To Buy?

Cost overruns (likely at least partly a product of just plain inflation) are threatening the U.S. Air Force program to replace the 1960s-era Minuteman III ICBM with the new Sentinel ICBM, planned to enter service around the 2027-2030 time frame. According to a report yesterday by Bloomberg News, the cost of the program, already projected at $96 billion, could jump to $117 billion due to rising costs for not only the missile but also the reconstruction of the silos and launch control systems that it requires.

“New information has emerged about factors that are driving changes to important aspects of the program, from the cost of materials and labor for the design and timeframe needed to build the launch facilities,” Andrew Hunter, the Air Force’s acquisition chief, said in a statement to Bloomberg. “We’re in a different world now than when program costs and schedules were originally set as a baseline” in August 2020, Hunter said. “Revisiting our assessments ensures senior leaders are equipped with updated information required to make decisions.”

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