U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines’ amendment to provide additional security for land based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) sites, like Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB) today unanimously passed the United States Senate and will now be included in the National Defense Authorization Act.
It was confirmed this year that the UH-1N Huey helicopter does not meet the security requirements for land based missile sites. The Air Force has known this since before 2001 and is working currently to replace the Huey’s.
Daines’ amendment requires the Department of Defense to certify what security shortfalls the UH-1N has created, and how it will alleviate those risks with outside resources until the acquisition process for new helicopters is complete.
“The Department of Defense has failed to recognize the urgency in replacing the Vietnam-era helicopters at Malmstrom, and the increased security is needed until they are replaced,” Daines stated. “I am pleased that the Senate is taking the appropriate steps to study the shortfalls and provide increased security from an outside resource until that replacement takes place.”
In the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill, Daines secured $75 million for the Air Force to purchase Black Hawk helicopters along with language directing the Department of Defense to secure the nuclear missile fields with additional outside air support until the acquisition process has completed due to the security risks posed by the Vietnam-era UH-1N.
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 May 18, 2016, Daines led the bipartisan ICBM coalition urging the Department of Defense to outline a clear plan for the security of the nuclear missiles stationed in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming following the news that the Department of Defense failed to approve the Air Forces’ request for a faster acquisition process.
In March, Daines led the Senate ICBM coalition in calling on the Air Force to expedite their decision on the course of action to replace Vietnam–era UH-1N helicopters. However, last week, the Air Force told Daines and members of the ICBM coalition that DoD is going to move forward with a normal acquisition process.