Air Force beginning environmental impact study process for ICBM replacement system
The Air Force has issued its notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement to “evaluate potential impacts on the human and natural environments of deploying the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missile system and decommissioning and disposing of the Minuteman III ICBM system. The Air Force invites public participation in the scoping process to determine the scope and significant issues to be analyzed in depth in the EIS and eliminate issues which are not significant.”
The 45-day public scoping period began Sept. 25 and the Air Force is accepting public comments through the project website at www.gbsdeis.com; or mail comments to AFCEC/CZN, Attn: GBSD Project EIS, 2261 Hughes Avenue, Suite 155, JBSA Lackland TX 78236-9853; FedEx and UPS deliveries to AFCEC/CZN, Attn: GBSD Project EIS; 3515 S General McMullen, San Antonio, TX 78226-9853.
The draft EIS is planned for publication in spring 2022 with another public comment period and hearing; final EIS publication and the final record of decision in spring 2023.
The Air Force is planning to replace all 1970s Minuteman III ICBM weapons systems with the currently being developed GBSD system.
In September, the Air Force awarded a $13.3 billion contract to Northrop Grumman for the engineering and manufacturing development of GBSD.
The project includes modernizing and replacing all launch facilities, communication systems, infrastructure, and technologies as necessary to support the GBSD system, according to the Air Force’s notice.
Malmstrom Air Force Base is set to be the second missile base to get the new system, according to the Secretary of the Air Force. F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming is scheduled as the first base and Minot in North Dakota is scheduled third.
Additional maintenance, training, storage, testing, support, decommissioning, and disposal actions would occur at Hill AFB and the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah; Camp Guernsey in Wyoming; and Camp Navajo in Arizona.
“The EIS may consider alternatives that include deploying the GBSD system in phases. The proposed action would not include generating or disposing of nuclear material, and the number of ground based nuclear missiles would remain unchanged. Deployment of the GBSD system would begin in the mid-2020s, extending the capabilities of the ground-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad through at least 2075,” according to the Air Force notice. “During the transition from Minuteman III to GBSD, the two weapon systems would be partially operated and maintained concurrently for several years; therefore, the EIS also will analyze the overlapping actions and resulting impacts of conducting aspects of the programs in parallel. The EIS will also analyze the No Action Alternative which will also be fully considered. It serves as the baseline against which to compare the Proposed Action. Under the No Action Alternative, the Air Force would continue to maintain and operate the Minuteman III weapon system in its current configuration and the GBSD system would not be deployed. Expected environmental impacts are assumed to result from ground disturbing activities associated with construction of the GBSD system. It is anticipated that these environmental impacts, will be mitigated to the extent practical or avoided where possible. Further, the Air Force will pursue all required Federal and State permits, licenses, and other authorizations during the course of this EIS process.”