With the end of the Cold War, the United States. has begun to revise its strategic policy and has agreed to eliminate the multiple re-entry vehicle Peacekeeper ICBMs by the year 2003 as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II.


The Peacekeeper missile is America's newest intercontinental ballistic missile. Its deployment fulfilled a key goal of the strategic modernization program and increased strength and credibility to the ground-based leg of the U.S. strategic triad.


The Peacekeeper is capable of delivering 10 independently targeted warheads with greater accuracy than any other ballistic missile. It is a three-stage rocket ICBM system consisting of three major sections: the boost system, the post-boost vehicle system and the re-entry system.

The boost system consists of three rocket stages that launch the missile into space. These rocket stages are mounted atop one another and fire successively. Each of the first three stages exhausts its solid propellant materials through a single movable nozzle that guides the missile along its flight path.

Following the burnout and separation of the boost system's third rocket stage, the post-boost vehicle system, in space, maneuvers the missile as its re-entry vehicles are deployed in sequence.

The post-boost vehicle system is made up of a maneuvering rocket, and a guidance and control system. The vehicle rides atop the boost system, weighs about 3,000 pounds (1,363 kilograms) and is 4 feet (1.21 meters) long.

The top section of the Peacekeeper is the re-entry system. It consists of the deployment module, up to 10 cone-shaped re-entry vehicles and a protective shroud. The shroud protects the re-entry vehicles during ascent.

It is topped with a nose cap, containing a rocket motor to separate it from the deployment module. The deployment module provides structural support for the re-entry vehicles and carries the electronics needed to activate and deploy them. The vehicles are covered with material to protect them during re-entry through the atmosphere to their targets and are mechanically attached to the deployment module. The attachments are unlatched by gas pressure from an explosive cartridge broken by small, exploding bolts, which free the re-entry vehicles, allowing them to separate from the deployment module with minimum disturbance. Each deployed re-entry vehicle follows a ballistic path to its target.


The Air Force successfully conducted the first test flight of the Peacekeeper June 17, 1983, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The missile traveled 4,190 miles (6,704 kilometers) before dropping six unarmed test re-entry vehicles on planned target sites in the Kwajalein Missile Test Range in the Pacific Ocean.

The first two test phases consisted of 12 test flights to ensure the Peacekeeper's subsystems performed as planned, and to make final assessments of its range and payload capability. The missile was fired from above-ground canisters in its first eight tests. Thereafter, test flights were conducted from Minuteman test silos reconfigured to simulate operational Peacekeeper sites.

The Air Force achieved initial operational capability of 10 deployed Peacekeepers at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., in December 1986. Full operational capability was achieved in December 1988 with the establishment of a squadron of 50 missiles.

Ballistic Missile Organization, Air Force Materiel Command (now Detachment 10, Space and Missile Systems Center), began full-scale development of the Peacekeeper in 1979. This organization, located at San Bernadino, Calif., integrated the activities of more than 27 civilian contractors and numerous subcontractors to develop and build the Peacekeeper system.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Intercontinental ballistic missile

Contractor: Basing: Boeing Aerospace and Electronics; assembly and test: Martin Marietta and Denver Aerospace

Power Plant: First three stages, solid-propellant; fourth stage, storable liquid (by Thiokol, Aerojet, Hercules and Rocketdyne)

Length: 71 feet (21.8 meters)

Weight: 195,000 pounds (87,750 kilograms) including re-entry vehicles

Diameter: 7 feet, 8 inches (2.3 meters)

Range: Greater than 6,000 miles (5,217 nautical miles)

Speed: Approximately 15,000 miles per hour at burnout (Mach 20 at sea level)

Guidance system: Inertial; integration by Rockwell, IMU by Northrop and Rockwell

Warheads: 10 Avco MK 21 re-entry vehicles

Date Deployed: December 1986

Unit Cost: $70 million

Inventory: Active force, 50; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0


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