U.S. SENATE — Following a meeting with U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah James, U.S. Senator Steve Daines today announced that the Air Force will be going with the slowest proposed route to replace the Vietnam-era UH-1Ns that provide security for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
The Air Force had the option to utilize existing contracts for Blackhawk helicopters and secure the ICBMs up to two years faster, or enter into a normal acquisition process.
“We have an obligation to secure our nuclear weapons at Malmstrom,” Daines stated. “Right now, our world’s most powerful weapons are sitting unsecured in Americans’ backyards. We need a strategy to secure our nuclear arsenal. The National Guard needs to be activated immediately to protect our nuclear missiles and work within the Air Force’s process to expedite the permanent solution.”
Daines has long been pushing the Air Force to chose the most expeditious path to replace the Vietnam-era UH-1N’s that provide security for our ICBMs.
On May 5, Daines sent a letter to the Air Force requesting the consideration of utilizing National Guard and their HH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
On April 27, under Daines’ questioning, Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed that he would look into the National Guard augmenting the Vietnam-era Hueys to convey the necessary security.
Last month, Daines led eight Senators in calling on the Air Force to expedite their decision on the course of action to replace Vietnam–era UH-1N helicopters.
In February, Daines pressed Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh about the Air Force’s plan to ensure top security for the transport of nuclear weapons by replacing Vietnam-era Huey helicopters.