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America's New Nuclear-Armed Missile Could Cost $85 Billion

  • Pentagon estimate rises from preliminary Air Force projection
  • Acquisition chief warns of ‘significant uncertainty’ on cost

The U.S. Air Force’s program to develop and field a new intercontinental ballistic missile to replace the aging Minuteman III in the nuclear arsenal is now projected to cost at least $85 billion, about 36 percent more than a preliminary estimate by the service.

Even the $85 billion calculated by the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office is a placeholder number that’s at the low end of potential costs, according to an Aug. 23 memo from Pentagon weapons buyer Frank Kendall to Air Force Secretary Deborah James. It includes $22.6 billion for research and development, $61.5 billion for procurement and $718 million for related military construction.