Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Modernization


December 19, 1986


The President decided today to proceed with full-scale development of the small intercontinental ballistic missile and to begin development of a mobile, rail garrison basing mode for Peacekeeper. These two programs are an integrated package to modernize ICBM's. The decision authorizes research and development only. In response to congressional direction to consider alternate basing modes and deployment areas for Peacekeeper, the President has decided that a basing mode be developed to place missiles on railroad cars during peacetime at military installations around the country. During times of national emergency, the Peacekeeper missiles could be moved to classified locations.


The main operating base for Peacekeeper rail garrison would be at F.E. Warren AFB, WY, where there is already a sizable investment in Peacekeeper support facilities. Garrisons would be located at F.E. Warren AFB and at other Defense installations throughout the continental United States. After considering the alternatives for satisfying the military-related requirements, the President has decided that the candidate installations for these garrisons should include 10 additional Air Force bases. Information on these candidates will be provided in the near future. The President has also decided to develop the small intercontinental ballistic missiles, weighing approximately 37,000 pounds and carrying a single reentry vehicle, in hard mobile launchers in two basing modes. These modes are called hard mobile launcher at Minuteman facilities and hard mobile launcher in random movement.


The initial operating capability for the small ICBM would be achieved in 1992 with the first systems positioned at Minuteman facilities at Malmstrom AFB, MT. After activation of the missiles in Montana, follow-on systems could be deployed at other Minuteman facilities at F.E. Warren AFB, WY (with locations extending into Nebraska and Colorado), and Ellsworth AFB, SD. Later missiles could be deployed in random movement on large tracts of government land located in the southwestern portion of the country. This could involve deployments at a Texas-New Mexico complex consisting of Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range, and Holloman AFB, and at an Arizona complex consisting of the Luke Air Force Range and Yuma Proving Ground. Holloman AFB and the Yuma Proving Ground would serve as main operating bases for the respective complexes.


The total quantity of systems to be produced and the extent to which the missiles are to be deployed will be dependent upon the size of the Soviet threat and progress reached on arms control agreements.