Air Force Bases

LGM-30F Minuteman II Overview

In service since 1965, the Minuteman "F" was a three stage, solid propellant, intercontinental ballistic missile. Because solid propellant is so stable in storage, the missile can be stored almost indefinitely and yet be ready to launch on short notice. This ICBM had a range of over 7,000 nautical miles and carried a single nuclear warhead. 450 missiles were fielded at one time, though the Minuteman II has been decommissioned and the missiles disassembled.

On 2 October 1963, shortly after the first model "A" and "B" Minuteman I squadrons achieved operational status, Headquarters USAF issued Annex A to Specific Operational Requirement 171 which established a requirement for the Minuteman II ICBM (Model "F"). A more advanced missile than either model of the Minuteman I, the "F" model incorporated a new, larger second-stage, improved guidance system, a greater range and payload capacity, and an increased capability to survive the effects of nuclear blast. In view of the numerous advantages of the Minuteman II, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara approved the Minuteman Force Modernization Program on 8 November 1963. The project entailed the eventual replacement of the entire force of deployed Minuteman I ICBMs, 150 "A" and 650 "B" models, with Minuteman IIs.

To prepare for the emplacement of the newer model Minuteman II ICBM, it was necessary to completely retrofit the original Minuteman I launch facilities, launch control facilities, and associated ground equipment. The Minuteman Force Modernization Program began at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, on 7 May 1966 when the first flight of ten model "B" Minuteman missiles were removed from their silos at the 509th Strategic Missile Squadron. On 1 February 1965, Headquarters SAC activated the 447th SMS at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, making it the seventeenth Minuteman squadron and the first to be equipped with "F" model missiles. Fourteen months later on 1 April 1966, SAC activated the fourth Minuteman II, and the twentieth and last Minuteman squadron, the 564th SMS, at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. Once the 564th SMS achieved operational status on 21 April 1967, the deployment of the programmed force of 1,000 Minuteman ICBMs was completed.

The Minuteman IIs remained on duty throughout the Cold War. In 1991 they were taken off operational alert in accordance with the provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) Agreement. As a result of that accord, the United States and the former Soviet Republics (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine) agreed to limit their longrange missile and bomber forces to 1,600 launchers, and reduce the number of warheads distributed among those delivery systems to 6,000 warheads. Currently the Minuteman IIs are being removed from their silos, and the launch facilities and launch control centers are being demolished.