Hoeven Pushes New ICBM, Helicopter Replacement with Lt. Gen. Weinstein

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today urged the Air Force to accelerate its schedule for replacing the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the fleet of helicopters that provide security at the ICBM sites in Minot and other missile bases. In a meeting today with Lieutenant General Jack Weinstein, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Hoeven emphasized the importance of the two programs for the nation’s defense and for the airmen and women at Minot Air Force Base.

“The ICBM force is critical to deterring our adversaries, and we cannot take it for granted,” Hoeven said. “We need to make sure our weapons systems and equipment are up-to-date, which makes our nuclear deterrent more credible and also improves the working conditions for the men and women of the Air Force, including at Minot Air Force Base, who operate and secure the ICBMs.”

Hoeven and Weinstein discussed the importance of replacing the fleet of UH-1N helicopters as quickly as possible. Hoeven has been pressing the Defense Department to replace the Vietnam-era Huey helicopters with Black Hawks. However, last week, the Air Force told the senator and other members of the ICBM Coalition that the Defense Department will rebid the acquisition rather than work off the existing Army contract for Black Hawk helicopters, which will delay the process. Following the announcement, the ICBM Coalition wrote the Defense Secretary and pressed him to outline a clear plan for replacing the fleet as expeditiously as possible. The senator also urged Weinstein to take whatever steps he can to accelerate the process of replacing the UH-1N.

Hoeven and Weinstein also reviewed progress of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, which will replace the existing Minuteman III missile with a new ICBM. Hoeven underscored that this program, which is in its early stages, must stay on schedule from the beginning if it is to stay within budget and field a new missile before the end of the next decade. Hoeven also discussed the significance of the program with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in a meeting last week.