Minuteman III replacement, the Sentinel, has completed a critical rocket test

Northrop Grumman successfully tested the first stage of its Sentinel missile, the replacement for the aging Minuteman III ICBMs.
Christopher McFadden
The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center conducted its first full-scale static test fire of the LGM-35A Sentinel stage-one solid rocket motor at the Northrop Grumman test facility in Promontor.

Northrop Grumman 

Northrop Grumman Corporation says that at its test site in Promontory, it has completed the first full-scale static test fire of the Sentinel stage-one solid rocket motor. The U.S. Air Force's LGM-35A Sentinel missile system, which used to be called the "Ground Based Strategic Deterrent" (GBSD), is a vital modernization of the ground-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, which is an essential part of U.S. national security.

As the Sentinel (GBSD) prime contractor, Northrop Grumman is developing a cutting-edge, integrated system that can be modified to counter new threats and keep up with technological advancements. The system will help keep the world safe by acting as a credible, secure, and effective deterrent that will keep our country safe and reassure our allies for decades.

This development test will further support the Sentinel team's design strategy, giving them the confidence to advance to the next testing phase. The motor met performance parameters and goals within expected ranges and was fired for the scheduled time.

“This static fire highlights the advances we’ve made in digital engineering and gives us confidence in our ability to translate that into hardware build and test as we continue to progress on the path to flight testing,” explained Sarah Willoughby, vice president of Sentinel, Northrop Grumman. “The results allow us to validate and anchor our stage-one motor performance before entering qualification testing and completing system analyses, which is the key to lowering risk as we mature the Sentinel design and advance towards critical design review,” she added.

Northrop Grumman also used cutting-edge testing apparatus to gather more data and better comprehend motor characteristics.

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“Our investments in digital design, test, and advanced manufacturing help to ensure we develop this next-generation missile more affordably and with innovation at its core, delivering to the Air Force a safe, secure, reliable, and flexible capability,” added Willoughby.

The U.S. Air Force is modernizing the land-based component of the strategic triad by replacing the "Minuteman III" system, which has been used for more than 50 years, with the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system. Northrop Grumman manufactures segments one and two of the Sentinel missile's three-stage booster. The booster is a new style that uses cutting-edge materials and design techniques to improve performance, dependability, safety, and sustainability.

Northrop Grumman oversees a national team comprising construction, engineering, and military businesses as part of the Sentinel engineering and manufacturing development contract. The Sentinel program, essential for national security, will involve more than 10,000 people from all over the United States.

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