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Sentinel nuclear missile

10th July, 2024 Security

Sentinel nuclear missile

Source: Schiebel’s

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  • The LGM-35A Sentinel, the Air Force's planned next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile, is facing severe cost overruns that triggered a critical Nunn-McCurdy breach.


About Sentinel Nuclear Missile

The LGM-35A Sentinel, developed by Northrop Grumman for the USAF, will replace the LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBMs. Incorporating digital engineering and a modular open system architecture, it will reduce life-cycle costs and enhance interoperability.

Equipped with a W87-1 thermonuclear warhead, it will feature advanced launch, flight, and command systems, and maintain security during warhead maintenance. The missile will have a range exceeding 5,500 km, capable of reaching global targets within 30 minutes.


  • The Sentinel nuclear missile program was initiated to modernize the U.S. ICBM fleet, ensuring a reliable and credible deterrent against nuclear threats in the evolving global security landscape.
  • The program underscores the importance of maintaining strategic stability and a formidable defense posture

Key Features

  • Modernization: The Sentinel is designed to replace the Minuteman III missiles, which have been in service since the early 1970s.
    • This modernization is crucial due to the advancing threats and the aging infrastructure of the existing missiles.
  • Technological Advancements: The Sentinel incorporates state-of-the-art technologies to enhance its precision, reliability, and survivability. ]
    • This includes advanced guidance systems, propulsion technology, and improved warhead delivery mechanisms.
  • Strategic Importance: The Sentinel missile is a critical component of the U.S. nuclear triad, which also includes submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and strategic bombers.
    • It ensures that the U.S. maintains a second-strike capability, which is essential for deterrence.

Financial Aspects

  • Despite its strategic importance, the Sentinel program has faced scrutiny due to escalating costs.
  • As of July 2024, the Pentagon has reaffirmed its commitment to the program, even as costs have significantly increased.
  • Managing these budgetary challenges while maintaining the program’s timelines and objectives remains a focal point for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Global Implications: The development and deployment of the Sentinel missile have profound implications for global security:

  • Deterrence: By strengthening the U.S. nuclear deterrent, the Sentinel contributes to global strategic stability.
  • Arms Race: The introduction of advanced ICBMs could spur other nuclear-armed states to upgrade their arsenals, potentially leading to an arms race.
  • Arms Control: The program affects arms control agreements and negotiations, as modernization efforts must be balanced with commitments to non-proliferation and disarmament.



READ ABOUT INDIAN MISSILES- https://www.iasgyan.in/blogs/indian-missiles-an-overview#:~:text=India%20has%20a%20storied%20history,missile%20programs%20in%20the%201970s.

ALSO ABOUT BASICS OF MISSILES- https://www.iasgyan.in/blogs/the-basics-of-missiles


  1. Consider the following statements regarding the Sentinel nuclear missile:
  2. The Sentinel missile is a part of the United States’ Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.
  3. The Sentinel is intended to replace the Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
  4. The development of the Sentinel missile has faced significant cost escalations.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2, and 3

Correct Answer: (b) 1 and 3 only