Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is urging Pentagon leaders to continue maintaining the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile and B-52 bomber missions at Minot Air Force Base.
The Air Force is preparing a budget proposal for the next fiscal year against the backdrop of mandated cuts to defense spending.
Conrad sent letters Friday to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
He asked Panetta to reconsider statements made to Congress last week where he warned that additional Pentagon budget cuts required if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit reduction fails could mean the termination of America's land-based missile fleet and the next generation of fighter jets.
A bi-partisan 12-member debt supercommittee never got close to bridging a fundamental divide over how much to raise taxes, The Associated Press reported Monday.
The news agency said Capitol Hill defense hawks were promising they won't allow the Pentagon cuts to be as deep as Panetta spoke of last week when he talked about $454 billion in required cuts to the Pentagon. But The Associated Press also said Monday that effort by defense hawks will be complicated by the insistence of other lawmakers that the overall amount of the budget cuts be left in place.
"It's a shock to hear the Pentagon say that the ICBM is a good place to find short-term savings. This total reversal of our long-held and successful nuclear deterrent strategy would create unnecessary strategic danger; moreover, it does not make fiscal sense," Conrad said in his letter on Friday.
He asked Panetta to "protect the 420-missile and 450-silo ICBM force from cuts outside the arms control process, and refrain from considering our nation's most cost-effective and stabilizing nuclear deterrent as a bill-payer when considering reductions to the defense budget."
Minot AFB has 150 Minuteman III ICBMs in underground facilities in the area.
In his letter to Donley and Schwartz, Conrad stressed the need to ensure there's adequate funding for maintaining and modernizing the nation's B-52 fleet.
Twenty-eight B-52 bombers are assigned to Minot AFB.
Conrad also told the Air Force leaders of legislation he sponsored, and later was signed into law, that maintains the B-52 fleet at no less than 74 aircraft and preserves the fleet through 2018.