K. William Boyer
Devils Lake Journal

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, Senator John Hoeven pressed Lt. Gen. Warren Barry, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering, and Force Protection (Air Force), to keep critical infrastructure projects for the Minot Air Force Base (MAFB) on schedule, including:

More:Wildfires burn more than 100,000 acres across North Dakota so far in 2021

·       Helicopter Facility – The existing facilities are aging and will not accommodate the MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters that will replace the Hueys currently deployed in Minot.

o   Accordingly, Hoeven secured more than $71 million across fiscal years (FY) 2019 and 2020 for a new helicopter facility at MAFB.

o   Hoeven also provided $194 million in FY2021 to purchase the first eight Grey Wolf helicopters and is pressing Air Force officials to secure the aircraft’s FAA certification to keep the program on schedule.

FILE - This June 24, 2014 file photo, shows an ICBM launch site located among fields and farms in the countryside outside Minot, N.D. The Air Force on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, fired two more nuclear commanders and disciplined a third. The actions were confirmed to the Associated Press in response to an AP inquiry about an internal Air Force investigation of two commanders at the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., which also is responsible for 150 Minuteman 3 missiles. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

More:News Bulletin: Roof blown off Fort Totten Historic Site

More:Wind erosion steals soil, nutrients, and impairs water quality

·       Weapons Generation Facility – The Air Force is currently undertaking a broad effort to construct new, secure and modernized facilities to store and maintain the nation’s nuclear weapons.

o   The senator stressed the critical role of MAFB as the nation’s only dual nuclear mission, as well as the high deployment rate of the 5th Bomb Wing for operations in the Korean peninsula and the Middle East.

A B-52H Stratofortress taxis down the runway during Prairie Vigilance 16-1 at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 16, 2016. As one leg of U.S. Strategic Command’s nuclear triad, Air Force Global Strike Command’s B-52s at Minot AFB, play an integral role in nation's strategic deterrence.

“As the only dual nuclear base in the country, Minot is essential to the defense of our nation, and we’re working to ensure these servicemembers have the infrastructure and equipment they need to be successful in their missions,” said Hoeven. “Both the existing helicopter facility and the weapons storage facility are outdated and will not meet the base’s future needs. That’s why we’re pressing the Air Force leadership to keep moving these projects forward, so the facilities can be built on schedule, ready to support the new Grey Wolf helicopters that will provide security for the missile fields and meet the fast-paced demands placed on Minot’s B-52s.”

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

Be sure to follow Devils Lake Journal on our twitter page, @devilslakenews, and like us on Facebook!