Congress Asks DOD for Plan to Protect ICBM Sites
—JENNIFER HLAD, AF ASS’N
A group of senators is asking the Pentagon to lay out a plan to replace the helicopters that protect the ICBM fields. Nine lawmakers, led by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, expressing “serious concerns” about the lack of an “appropriate and timely path” to replace the UH-1N Huey fleet. In the letter, the members of Congress request “detailed information,” to include the options the DOD is considering and what the Pentagon is doing “to better secure our nation’s most powerful weapons.” The letter notes that while Carter testified in April that there is an urgent need for the helicopters to be replaced, the Air Force this month announced it will use the normal competition process for a replacement, which the congressmen and women note “could take as much as four years.” The nuclear forces at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., Minot AFB, N.D., and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., “all depend on these antiquated Vietnam-era helicopters” for “quick reaction force protection and convoy security protection,” but the fleet “meets the requirements for neither,” they wrote. In addition to Daines, the letter is signed by Senators Jon tester (D-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Representatives Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Adrian Smith (R-Neb.)
A UH-1N helicopter flies over Minot AFB, N.D., Dec. 11, 2014. Air Force photo by SrA. Brittany Y. Bateman.