An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with a long range (greater than 5,500 km or 3,500 miles) typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery (delivering one or more nuclear warheads). Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target.
LGM-25C Titan II: The Titan II was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and space launcher developed by the Glenn L. Martin Company from the earlier Titan I missile. Titan II was originally used as an ICBM. It was later used as a medium-lift space launch vehicle to carry payloads for the Air Force, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These payloads include the USAF Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), the NOAA weather satellites, and NASA’s Gemini manned space capsules. The modified Titan II SLVs (Space Launch Vehicles) were launched from Vandenberg AFB, California up until 2003. The missile consists of a two-stage, rocket engine powered vehicle and a Re-entry vehicle (RV). Provisions are included for in-flight separation of Stage II from Stage I, and separation of the RV from Stage II. Stage I and Stage II vehicles each contain propellant and pressurization, rocket engine, hydraulic and electrical systems, and explosive components. In addition, Stage II contains the flight control system and missile guidance set.
The airframe is a two-stage, aerodynamically stable structure that houses and protects the airborne missile equipment during powered flight. The missile guidance set enables the shutdown and staging enable relay to initiate Stage I separation. Each stage is 10 feet in diameter and has fuel and oxidizer tanks in tandem, with the walls of the tanks forming the skin of the missile in those areas. External conduits are attached to the outside surface of the tanks to provide passage for the wire bundles and tubing. Access doors are provided on the missile forward, aft and between-tanks structure for inspection and maintenance. A man-hole cover for tank entry is located on the forward dome of each tank.
The first Titan II guidance system was built by AC Spark Plug. It used an IMU (inertial measurement unit, a gyroscopic sensor) made by AC Spark Plug derived from original designs from MIT Draper Labs. The missile guidance computer (MGC) was the IBM ASC-15. When spares for this system became hard to obtain, it was replaced by a more modern guidance system, the Delco Universal Space Guidance System (USGS). The USGS used a Carousel IV IMU and a Magic 352 computer.
LGM-30 Minuteman: The LGM-30G Minuteman-III program started in 1966, and included several improvements over the previous versions. It was first deployed in 1970. Most modifications related to the final stage and reentry system (RS). The final (third) stage was improved with a new fluid-injected motor, giving finer control than the previous four-nozzle system. Performance improvements realized in Minuteman-III include increased flexibility in reentry vehicle (RV) and penetration aids deployment, increased survivability after a nuclear attack, and increased payload capacity. The missile retains a gimballed inertial guidance system. The Guidance Replacement Program (GRP) replaces the NS20A Missile Guidance Set with the NS50A Missile Guidance Set. The newer system extends the service life of the Minuteman missile beyond the year 2030 by replacing aging parts and assemblies with current, high reliability technology while maintaining the current accuracy performance. The replacement program was completed 25 February 2008.
Beginning in 1998 and continuing through 2009, the Propulsion Replacement Program extends the life and maintains the performance by replacing the old solid propellant boosters (downstages). The Single Reentry Vehicle (SRV) modification enabled the United States ICBM force to abide by the now-vacated START II treaty requirements by reconfiguring Minuteman-III missiles from three reentry vehicles down to one. Though it was eventually ratified by both parties, START II never entered into force and was essentially superseded by follow-on agreements such as SORT and New START, which do not limit MIRV capability. Beginning in 2005, Mk-21/W87 RVs from the deactivated Peacekeeper missile will be placed on the Minuteman-III force under the Safety Enhanced Reentry Vehicle (SERV) program. The older W78 currently used is not equipped with important safety features. In addition to adding additional safety features into at least a portion of the future Minuteman-III force, the decision to transfer W87s onto the missile is based on two features that will improve the targeting capabilities of the weapon: more fuzing options which will allow for greater targeting flexibility and the most accurate reentry vehicle available which provides a greater probability of damage to the designated targets. The first SERV-modded Minuteman III was put on alert status at FE Warren AFB, Wyoming, in 2006.
R-36: The R-36 (SS-9) is a two-stage rocket powered by a liquid bipropellant, with UDMH as fuel and nitrogen tetroxide as an oxidizer. It carries one of three types of re-entry vehicles (RVs) developed especially for this missile:
- The Mod 1 and Mod 2 carried single nuclear warheads of 18 and 25 megatons (mt) of TNT yield respectively.
- The Mod 4 carried three multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRV).
An additional version, the Mod 3, was proposed (it was to be a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS), a missile that travels through space in a low-earth orbit), but was not adopted due to the Outer Space Treaty. The R-36P missile was developed to carry the Mod 4 warhead, while the R-36O (the letter O) was to be for the Mod 3 FOBS. R-36 and R-36P missiles were hot launched from their silos.
The R-36M (SS-18) is similar to the R-36 in design, but has the capacity to mount a MIRV payload of 10 warheads, each with a 550–750 kt yield, or a single warhead of up to 20 mt. Throw-weight of the missile is 8,800 kg. This makes the Soviet R-36 the world’s heaviest ICBM; for comparison, the heaviest US ICBM (the retired LGM-118 Peacekeeper, that carried 10 warheads of 300 kT each) had less than a half of this at 4,000 kg. The R-36M has two stages. The first is a 460,000 kgf (4.5 MN) thrust motor with four combustion chambers and nozzles. The second stage is a single-chamber 77,000 kgf (755 kN) thrust motor.
RT-2UTTKh Topol-M: The Topol-M is a cold-launched, three-stage, solid-propellant, silo-based or road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile’s length is 22.7 m and the first stage has a body diameter of 1.9 m. The mass at launch is 47,200 kg, including the 1200 kilogram payload. Topol-M carries a single warhead with a 800 kt yield but the design is compatible with MIRV warheads. According to chief designer Yury Solomonov, the missile can carry four to six warheads along with decoys. Its minimum range is estimated to be 2,000 km and the maximum range 10,500 km. It has three solid rocket stages with inertial, autonomous flight control utilizing an onboard GLONASS receiver. It is reputed to have the highest accuracy of any Russian ICBM with a CEP of 200m.
The Topol-M may be deployed either inside a reinforced missile silo, which is reported to be able to withstand a direct nuclear hit or from a APU 15U168 launcher mounted on the MZKT-79221 “Universal” 16-wheeled transporter-erector-launcher. This mobile launcher is capable of moving through roadless terrain, and launching a missile from any point along its route. The designation for the silo-based Topol-M missile is believed to be RS-12M2, while the mobile version is RS-12M1. The first stage has three rocket motors developed by the Soyuz Federal Center for Dual-Use Technologies. This gives the missile a much higher acceleration than other ICBM types. It enables the missile to accelerate to the speed of 7,320 m/s and to travel a flatter trajectory to distances of up to 10,000 km. As a solid propellant design, the missile can be maintained on alert for prolonged periods of time and can launch within minutes of being given the order.
UGM-133 Trident II: UGM-133 Trident II, or Trident D5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California, and deployed with the US Navy and Royal Navy. It was first deployed in 1990, and is still in service.
Trident II was designed to be more sophisticated than Trident I, and have a greater payload capacity. It is accurate enough to be used as a first strike weapon. All three stages of the Trident II are made of graphite epoxy, making the missile much lighter than its predecessor. Trident II missiles are carried by US Ohio class and British Vanguard class submarines. USS Tennessee was the first submarine to be armed with Trident IIs. Trident II missiles are currently carried by fourteen Ohio class, and four Vanguard class SSBNs. There have been 135 consecutive successful test flights of the D5 missile since 1989, with the most recent being from USS Nevada on 1 March 2011 as the concluding action of US Trident D5 DASO-22. Specifications:
- Purpose: strategic nuclear deterrence
- Unit Cost: US $30.9 million
- Range: > 11,300 kilometres (7,000 mi)
- Maximum speed: > 6,000 m/s (>21,000 km/h, >13,422 mph).
- Guidance system: inertial, with Star-Sighting, GPS experiments done but not deployed.
- CEP: Requirement: 90–120 m (300–400 ft) That demonstrated by flight tests is significantly better.
- Warhead (in USA usage only): nuclear MIRV. Up to four W88 (475 kt) warheads (Mark 5) or eight W76 (100 kt) warheads (Mark 4). The Trident II can carry 12 MIRV warheads but START I reduces this to 8 and SORT reduces this yet further to 4 or 5.
LGM-118 Peacekeeper: The LGM-118A Peacekeeper, also known as the MX missile (for Missile-experimental), was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. A total of 50 missiles were deployed. They have since been deactivated. Under the START II treaty, which never entered into force, the missiles were to be removed from the U.S. nuclear arsenal in 2005, leaving the LGM-30 Minuteman as the only type of land-based ICBM in the U.S. arsenal. Despite the demise of the START II treaty, the last of the LGM-118A “Peacekeeper” ICBMs (but not their warheads) were decommissioned on September 19, 2005. Current plans are to switch 500 decommissioned Peacekeepers’ W87/Mk-21 warheads to the Minuteman III. Among the reasons cited for decommissioning of the Peacekeeper ICBM was its failure to achieve the program’s range objectives. The Peacekeeper was a MIRV missile; the MX could carry up to 10 re-entry vehicles, each armed with a 300-kiloton W87 warhead/MK-21 RVs (approx. twenty times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II).