Great Falls Tribune: Malmstrom to get funds for ICBM, ‘copter projects

Malmstrom Air Force Base will receive federal funding to help modernize its ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) infrastructure and replace UH-1N Huey military helicopters at the base, Sen. Steve Daines said Monday.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 OKs a $69.4 million increase for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program, a Daines spokeswoman said Monday.

The GBSD will replace the Missileman III missile at Malmstrom in the mid-2020s and the funds are for public and private research nationwide, Daines said.

It also requires the Air Force to increase staffing to ensure the project stays on schedule and to pursue a new maintenance vehicle for the Minuteman III to reduce cost and labor impacts on the enlisted force, Daines said in a news release.

 Additionally, the NDAA authorizes the full funding of the UH-1N Huey replacement at the president’s requested level of $288 million and gives greater flexibility for the Department of Defense to do research on elements of the nation’s nuclear triad system, of which Malmstrom’s ICBM mission is a key component, Daines, R-Mont., said.

 “This legislation is a win for Montana’s airmen and the Great Falls community,” said Daines, who said he helped get the funds through.

“The NDAA will help bolster this vital mission by modernizing our nuclear defenses and replacing critical equipment at Malmstrom,” he said.

The Hueys are used by the 40th Helicopter Squadron, which provides security and can quickly move reaction teams into the field. They also provided search and rescue across the region to help civilian resources.

The helicopters are used by all three missile bases within Air Force Global Strike Command, including Malmstrom, Minot and F.E. Warren AFBs.

In 2016 Daines said 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 stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base.