Boeing

50 years on alert: By the numbers

Discover some interesting factoids, statistics and milestones for the Minuteman III as it marks 50 years of continuous alert

October 28, 2020 in Defense

An Airman performs maintenance work on a Minuteman III circa 1989.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

As we continue to mark the Boeing-built Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)’s half century on continuous alert, join us in counting down some incredible figures, statistics and milestones of the nation’s land-based strategic deterrent, according to U.S. Air Force and Boeing information.

In t-minus 3… 2… 1…

  • 26,297,280 – The number of minutes the Minuteman III had spent on alert as of Aug. 19, 2020 – 50 years from the exact date the weapon system began its watch – per the Air Force Global Strike Command.
  • 79,432 – The weight in pounds of the ICBM – more than three times the maximum load of an H-47 Chinook.
  • 15,000 – The top speed of a Minuteman III in miles per hour – faster than a seismic wave and more than 12 times faster than the top-end speed of an F/A-18 Super Hornet.
  • > 6,000 – The ICBM’s maximum range in miles – farther than a roundtrip journey from New York City to San Francisco and roughly one and a half times the maximum range of a 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

A Minuteman ICBM comparison chart from 1968 used to introduce personnel to the Minuteman III (far right). In the Air Force designation LGM-30G, L stands for silo-launched, G stands for surface attack, and M means guided missile.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
  • 700 – The approximate ceiling in miles of a Minuteman III in flight – around two and a half times higher than the maximum orbit range for the International Space Station.
  • 400 – The number of ICBMs strategically located in underground siloes across the Midwest.
  • 234 – The number of routine Minuteman III test launches since August 1970 – an average of more than four and a half test launches per year.
  • > 99 – The “on alert” percentage of ICBMs in the arsenal at any given moment. This overwhelming, around-the-clock deterrence frees up critical resources and forces to focus on other missions around the world.
  • 60 – The number of seconds it takes for a Minuteman III to launch from a silo after ignition – an apt amount of time given the American Revolutionary War militiamen it was named after that were famous for being ready in a minute’s notice.
  • 24 – The number of hours each day Air Force launch crews remain on alert inside launch control centers. The Minuteman III never punches out it’s always on the clock.
  • 10 – The original planned service life in years of the Minuteman III. The enduring strategic deterrent is currently slated to remain in service until the mid-2030s – more than six times that amount of time.

Airmen work on a Minuteman III’s multiple independent warhead targeting system.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
  • 6.2 – The number of feet longer the Minuteman III was than the original Minuteman I.
  • 3 – The Minuteman III was the first U.S. ICBM designed to feature the capability to carry and allow for independent targeting for up to three warheads.
  • 2.3 – The number of feet longer the Minuteman III was than its predecessor, the Minuteman II.
  • 1 – Boeing is the only company that has continuously supported every ICBM subsystem – ground, guidance, propulsion and re-entry – over the lifetime of the Minuteman III.

Click here to learn more about the Minuteman III and Boeing’s broader portfolio of strategic deterrence systems.