Hoeven Continuing Efforts to Enhance Security at MAFB, Replace Helicopters & Upgrade ICBM Fleet

Senator Meets with New Commander of Minot’s 91st Missile Wing

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week met with Col. Colin Connor, the new commander of the 91st Missile Wing at the Minot Air Force Base, to review the needs of the base and ensure the security and effectiveness of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet. Col. Connor accepted the command last month from Col. Michael Lutton, who was then promoted to Brig. Gen., after serving as a Chief of Staff of the Air Force Fellow at the Pentagon.

“The Minot Air Force Base hosts two legs of our nation’s nuclear triad, which makes it an important part of our nation’s overall defense,” Hoeven said. “It is great to welcome Col. Connor to the base’s Missile Wing. I look forward to working with him as we continue our efforts to replace the Vietnam-era helicopters that guard the ICBM fleet and to make necessary upgrades to the missiles, which will ensure that the fleet is both secure and a credible threat. In addition, we are working to develop plans for new training facilities for the base’s security forces, which will further ensure our ICBMs are protected against modern threats.”

As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has worked to secure support for the Minot Air Force Base, ensuring its service members have the equipment and facilities they need to fulfill their missions, including:

Replacing the UH-1N helicopter

The Vietnam-era UH-1N helicopters currently provide security for the nation’s ICBM fleet, but were deemed insufficient for addressing current threats to national security. In response, Hoeven, a member of the bipartisan ICBM Coalition, has pressed Air Force officials for a timely replacement on multiple occasions.

Hoeven has also successfully included $75 million in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Department of Defense appropriations bill to replace the helicopters at Minot. Following this, the Senate passed the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized $300 million to replace the helicopters across the Air Force.

Updating the ICBM fleet

Hoeven worked with the Air Force in 2014 to start the Nuclear Force Improvement Program, which supports upgrades for outdated equipment, modernizing aging facilities and increasing the number of personnel assigned to the nuclear mission as well as improving those individuals’ career paths.

Since that time, the senator has continued to urge military and other defense officials to move the initiative forward while also working to secure adequate funding for the program. Accordingly, the FY2016 NDAA fully funded the ICBM missions. Hoeven worked to ensure this funding is maintained in the Senate’s FY2017 NDAA and Defense appropriations bill, while also advancing research and development for a new generation ICBM to replace the existing Minuteman III.