- U.S. ICBM first deployed in 1962.Its three generationsthe Minuteman I (1962–73), the Minuteman II (1966–95), and the Minuteman III (from 1970)have constituted most of the land-based nuclear arsenal of the U.S. since the 1960s. They were the first U.S. ICBMs to be based in underground silos, use solid fuel, and be fitted with multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (see MIRV). Under the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, the Minuteman II force was dismantled and the Minuteman III scheduled for downgrading to a single warhead.
* * *intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that constituted most of the land-based nuclear arsenal of the United States from the 1960s.There have been three generations of the Minuteman missile. The Minuteman I was first deployed in 1962. This 56-foot (17-metre), three-staged missile was the first ICBM to use solid fuels (which are safer than the more volatile liquid fuels) and the first U.S. ICBM to be based in underground silos (previous missiles were stored on above-ground launch pads). Between 1966 and 1973 the Minuteman I was replaced by the Minuteman II. Improved propulsion gave this missile a longer range of about 8,000 miles (13,000 km), and its reentry vehicle, carrying a 1.2-megaton thermonuclear warhead, was equipped with electronic jammers and other devices designed to penetrate radar-directed antiballistic missile defenses around cities and military sites in the Soviet Union.The Minuteman III was deployed between 1970 and 1975 with two or three independently targetable reentry vehicles, each carrying a 170-kiloton thermonuclear warhead. In the 1980s three 335-kiloton warheads were installed on some Minuteman IIIs, along with a more accurate guidance system that gave them a “hard-target kill” potential to destroy reinforced ICBM silos and command bunkers in the Soviet Union.Beginning in 1986, some Minuteman IIIs were replaced by the Peacekeeper missile. By that time about 1,000 Minuteman II and III missiles had been deployed at air-force bases in Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Missouri.
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