May 10 2012
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven met late Wednesday with Lt. General James Kowalski, Commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, for an update on projects and enhancements underway on the Minot Air Force Base. The Air Force Global Strike Command is charged with providing combat ready forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations, and Minot Air Force Base falls under the jurisdiction of the Command.
“Our men and women at Minot Air Force Base do a tremendous job not only defending our nation but also helping when needed on the civil side, as they did during the city’s severe flooding last year,” Hoeven said. “We need to ensure that they have all the tools and equipment they need to defend our nation and our people, both now and well into the future.”
The senator and general discussed technical and infrastructure upgrades to the Minot Air Force Base’s B-52 Bomber and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) missions. The base hosts 150 Minuteman III missiles and two squadrons of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers. As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Hoeven worked to pass legislation in December for projects to enhance the base’s two missions.
General Kowalski said the base is making good progress on a project to modify B-52 aircraft to carry smart weapons internally in its bomb bay, rather than on the wing, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and range.
In addition, implementation of the full Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) program is also moving ahead. CONECT will give the B-52 greater satellite communications capabilities, improve the aircraft’s ability to use mission and target data and allow the B-52 to change missions and re-target weapons systems during flight.
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND OTHER PROJECTS
Also underway at the base are construction of a new B-52 maintenance dock, B-52 munitions maintenance facility and a 168-room dormitory. In addition to the new B-52 facilities, a new 168-room dormitory is also moving ahead. Renovations to the runway and a new control tower are also progressing well, Kowalski said.
Hoeven again expressed strong support for a robust nuclear weapons capability through maintaining all three “legs” of the “nuclear triad,” including land-based ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and nuclear-capable heavy bomber jets.The Air Force Global Strike Command’s six wings control the nation’s entire inventory of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, B-2 and B-52 bomber aircraft.