According to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Public Affairs, the Air Force has awarded two contracts to modernize the ground-based missiles which this branch of the armed services has been using since the 1970s. The Air Force has a comprehensive intercontinental ballistic missile weapons system program in place, and its aims to develop more mature technology and reduce risks by creating the new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) missile. The contracts were awarded to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation in Redondo Beach, California and Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama, with the announcement taking place in August 2017.
The new GBSD will replace the powerhouse LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM. This missile has subsystems and specific components which have been consistently upgraded throughout its 50 years-plus operation, but its fundamental infrastructure, which has been continuously operational throughout that time is original equipment which was first implemented in the early years of the 1970s. The United States Air Force maintains a nuclear defense triad comprised of nuclear weapons which can be strategically delivered in three ways:
- Traditional strategic bombers
- Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)
- Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs)
There are known triad powers, including the United States, Russia, China, and India; former triad powers such as France, and suspected triad powers such as Israel. With the emergence of North Korea and the threat of terrorism complicating the potentials for nuclear strategy, it is not surprising that the international community is heavily concerned with existing and emerging weaponry.
Taking a close look at the various armed forces in the United States and internationally, it is obvious that there is a current trend for improving and enhancing existing missile models, and developing completely new missile systems which incorporate the latest technologies. While the past decades were devoted to the domination of nuclear capabilities by the primary known triad powers, current news is filled with reports of contractual agreements for modern missiles and weapons technology in countries previously thought to be unarmed at these levels. In addition, military news is filled with news of a wide array of lesser armaments being acquired internationally at a brisk pace.
Currently, the world is populated with a wide range of long-established missile variants in service. While these enormously powerful weapons are poised for their next assignments, ever more powerful designs are either in the planning stages or are being realized with the implementation of recent high budget programs. Fascinating, too, are the unexpected alignments between government agencies whose technological giants are immersed in collaborative programs. One example would be the recent work on BrahMos shared by India and Russia. The recent parades of military strength coupled with displays of new weaponry conducted in Russia, North Korea, India, China and Iran have military watchers noting that it’s impossible to know exactly what will emerge next. Here’s a list of some of the world’s most powerful missiles simultaneously admired and feared right now.