USAF Ballistic Missile Programs 1969-1970 [excised]   [open pdf - 4MB]

Alternate Title: United States Air Force

"A central part of Neufeld's story is the deployment of the MIRVed Minuteman III. While the August 1968 Minuteman R&D launch was successful, the next one failed and the follow-up was a partial failure all because of mechanical problems, many relating to the guidance and control system, which led the Air Force to drop North American Rockwell and award a new contract to Honeywell. By mid-1970, however, after 25 tests, Minuteman III had proved its reliability and it had achieved its accuracy objective of 0.25 NM circular error probable. With the deployment of the first Minuteman IIIs in June 1970, that system and the MIRV would become integral to U.S. nuclear forces. […]. With the Soviet Union achieving parity in strategic missiles, Defense officials became more and more alarmed that U.S. ICBMs would be vulnerable to a Soviet strike. Nevertheless, it was difficult to achieve consensus on whether special shelters or hard rock silos, among other technological fixes, would provide protection against the alleged threat. […]. The author does not mention whether launch on warning was still under consideration for circumstances when pindown was anticipated. The Air Force kept looking over the horizon for plausible threats in the future. While Air Force leader continued to support an Advanced ICBM program, Defense officials rejected funding requests; Neufeld paraphrases Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze as arguing that the proposed ICBM would be a 'big inviting target.'"

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National Security Archive: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/
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