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The Sentinel ICBM program: Risks, Costs, and Alternatives
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January 26, 12:30-1:30 pm U.S. Eastern Time
Cohosted by the Arms Control Association and
the Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction

The U.S. Air Force is moving forward with plans to refurbish all its 450 nuclear missile silos and replace its current fleet of Minuteman III land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles with new Sentinel missiles.

A new study based on state-of-the-art nuclear war modeling suggests the scale of the human and environmental impact of this policy may be larger than previously known. Described as one of the largest and most complex weapon system programs ever undertaken by the U.S. Air Force, the Sentinel program is proving challenging to deliver on time and on cost.

The program already faces significant overruns that may trigger a congressional review. This provides a new opportunity to think about alternatives to the current Sentinel program and ending six decades of reliance on land-based ICBMs.


  • Sébastien Philippe is a Research Scholar with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. His research focuses on modeling the impact of nuclear weapon use on people and planet. He is a former nuclear weapon system safety engineer in France Ministry of Armed Forces.
  • Sharon K. Weiner is Associate Professor at American University’s School of International Service and a visiting researcher at Princeton’s Program on Science & Global Security. She has extensive experience in Government, including as a program examiner with the National Security Division at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
  • Frank von Hippel is professor emeritus with Princeton’s Program on Science & Global Security. He has been engaged with US ICBM issues since the 1970s. He is a co-founder of the Physicist Coalition for Nuclear Threats Reduction.
  • Zia Mian is a physicist and co-director of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security. He is a co-founder of the Physicist Coalition for Nuclear Threats Reduction and has served on the board of the Arms Control Association.