November 12, 2006 An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), is a very long-range (more than 5,500 km) missile designed for delivering one or more nuclear warheads. In an all-out nuclear war, submarine and land-based ICBMs would carry the vast majority of the destructive force. Currently only five countries, U.S., Russia, France, U.K., and China have ICBMs, while India, Pakistan and North Korea are developing the capability. In 2002, the U.S. and Russia to reduce their deployed stockpiles to 2,200 warheads each. Accordingly, it's a good idea if you're going to have so much firepower on hand, that it should be ready for action, and this week the contracts were signed to deploy a replacement Environmental Control System (ECS) for more than 550 U.S. Air Force Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch, missile alert and Class 1 trainer facilities. The ECS regulates climate controls and ensures that electronics and ground support systems are maintained at specified pre-set temperatures in launch control centers and launch facilities.

The current Minuteman ECS, in use for more than 40 years, has been the focus of a redesign effort over the past decade. Boeing will remove the current ECS before installing and testing the new one. A separate contractor will manufacture the replacement systems. The contract calls for the work to be completed by 2011.

Boeing, a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman Mission Systems on the Air Force ICBM program, also is responsible for supporting the sustaining engineering and modernization efforts under way for the silo-based ICBM fleet and supports the Minuteman Force Development Evaluation flight test program at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The Minuteman ICBM is a three-stage, solid-fueled strategic missile. First deployed in the 1960s, there are 500 Minuteman ICBMs currently in the nation's arsenal.

Boeing signed the US$78.2 million contract from Northrop Grumman Mission Systems this week.