Part of a massive multi-decade scheme of “modernization,” the US Air Force is planning a new ICBM nuclear weapons program to replace the Minuteman III. The Pentagon’s latest projections are that this will cost “at least” $85 billion.
That’s a huge increase, some 36% over the previous estimate they’d offered, but even this is being referred to by Pentagon officials as the “low end” of the potential cost, primarily there as a placeholder for the overall program’s soaring estimates.
Several major arms makers are bidding on the scheme, but analysts are warning that the growing cost estimates may have some in Congress finally balking at a plan which many have been warning could be a budget buster for decades to come.
The rising costs, and the growing admissions that even the estimates are probably too low, seem like they’d be a wake-up call for a modernization plan that many are believing will extend into the trillions of dollars over the next few decades. Though many officials continue to insist the expense is “necessary,” there is no clear visibility on where the money is going to come from.