Supporting nuclear force modernization to bolster national defense and strengthen Minot Air Force Base

We’re making strong progress to modernize our nation’s nuclear forces, which was highlighted during the recent visit of Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson to Minot Air Force Base and well outlined in the Minot Daily News. Given threats around the globe, Minot Air Force Base, which is home to two of the three legs of the nuclear triad, is more important than ever. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have been working over the past several years to secure the funding necessary to modernize our nuclear forces, ensuring our bombers, cruise missiles and ICBMs remain a credible deterrent.

B-52 Engine and Missile Upgrades

We are working to upgrade the B-52 bomber to ensure it is performing now and into the future. To do that, we need to make upgrades to the aircraft, like new engines, as well as to modernize the missiles it carries now and will carry in the future. In Fiscal Year 2019, I worked to secure important funding to do just that, including:

— $400 million for upgrades to the B-52, including the start of a program to procure new engines.

— Nearly $665 million for the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) carried on the B-52.

— $655 million to extend the life of the W80 warhead, which flies on the ALCM at Minot Air Force Base and will transfer to the LRSO replacement missile.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Updates

At the same time, we’re working to update our ICBMs to ensure that they remain a credible deterrent against current and emerging threats. To do that, we worked to secure strong funding in Fiscal Year 2019, including:

— Nearly $540 million to sustain the existing fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

— $414 million for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program to replace the Minuteman III.

— $53 million to refurbish the warheads that fly on the Minuteman III and will transfer to the replacement missile following the GBSD program.

Helicopter Replacement and Infrastructure

While we work to sustain our ICBMs, we also need to ensure that the silos are secure. Currently, the Minot Air Force Base is flying Vietnam-era helicopters to provide security for the ICBM silos. These aging helicopters need to be replaced, and we’ve been working over the past several years to move forward these plans, including providing strong funding in Fiscal Year 2019 for both replacement helicopters and the infrastructure necessary to support the new aircraft. Specifically, we secured:

— $258 million to replace the UH-1N Huey helicopters used to secure the ICBM silos.

— $66 million for a new helicopter facility at the Minot Air Force Base. The existing facilities are aging and will not accommodate new helicopters that will replace the Hueys.

The men and women serving at Minot Air Force Base do a tremendous job fulfilling their missions and with the investments we’re making to our bombers, cruise missiles and ICBMs, they will have the tools they need to succeed. As a member of the Senate Defense and Military Construction Appropriations Committees, I will continue working to modernize our nuclear forces to strengthen the missions at Minot Air Force Base and ensure that the U.S. has a strong deterrent for decades to come.