Air Force releases final environmental assessment for GBSD test program
The Department of the Air Force has released the Final Environmental Assessment for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Test Program and the program’s Finding of No Significant Impact.
The analysis can be found at gbsdtesteaoea.govsupport.us
The GBSD program would modernize the 1970s land-based intercontinental ballistic missile Minuteman III system.
“The Air Force plans to modernize the land-based leg of the nuclear triad, recapitalizing its ICBM fleet while upgrading the weapon system technology, supporting infrastructure, and command and control functions,” according to a release from Air Force Global Strike Command.
Test program-related activities would occur primarily at Hill Air Force Base in Utah and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Tests would include conducting missile launches from Vandenberg with flights over the Pacific Ocean in the Western Test Range. Additional test support activities would occur at U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, according to AFGSC.
The environmental assessment also includes analysis of the proposed GBSD Formal Training Unit/Schoolhouse at Vandenberg AFB.
“The GBSD and Minuteman III test demonstrations are proposed to occur at U.S. Army Garrison–Kwajalein Atoll and within the Republic of the Marshall Islands territorial waters. The analysis of overseas environmental impacts is also included in the assessment. Test activities would comply with the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll environmental standards,” according to AFGSC.
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.
Col. Jason Bartolomei is the Air Force GBSD program manager and at the Air Force Association’s Doolittle Leadership virtual forum on June 14, he said that test flights of the new missile will start by the end of 2023 and that it’s already starting in a modeling environment, Air Force Magazine reported.
He said that GBSD should have initial operational capability by 2029 and full operational capability with 400 missile by 2026. Air Force Magazine reported that GBSD will be deployed to missile silos an average of once a week for nine years.