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Minuteman III ICBMs replaced Minuteman I ICBMs

Air Force preparing for new weapon system

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE – Initially, Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missiles were placed in underground launch facilities in the Minot missile complex in the early 1960s.

The missile complex covers several counties in north central and northwest North Dakota, stretching over 8,500 square miles.

By April 1964, all 150 of those missiles were in place and ready to go, if needed, according to “Celebrating 65 Years: Minot Air Force Base 1955-2020,” a commemorative magazine recently published by The Minot Daily News.

A few years later the Minuteman I ICBMs were replaced with Minuteman III ICBMS, the current missiles in the Minot missile complex.

Boeing built the Minuteman missile for the Air Force in the early 1960s and continues to sustain the program.

The first Minuteman III missile arrived for the Minot missile complex on April 13, 1970; the first flight was accepted by Strategic Air Command on June 18, 1970; the first Minuteman III squadron with 50 missiles was completed on Jan. 20, 1971; and the missile wing’s Minuteman III modernization program was completed (15 flights) on Dec. 16, 1971, according to information from Michael Lombardi, senior corporate historian for The Boeing Co.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first flight of Minuteman IIIs with the 741st Missile Squadron to go on alert in the Minot missile complex.

The 91st Missile Wing led by Col. Christopher Menuey at Minot Air Force Base operates, maintains and secures the fleet of Minuteman IIIs in the underground launch facilities in the Minot missile complex. Menuey became Minot missile wing commander in July.

Now the Air Force is preparing for a new weapon system, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrence, to replace the Minuteman III ICBMs.

On Friday, the Air Force announced plans to begin military construction in the next years at F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming, Malmstrom AFB, Montana, and Minot Air Force Base.

F.E. Warren is scheduled for construction to start as early as 2023, Malmstrom AFB in 2026 and Minot AFB beginning in 2029.

Military construction is phased ahead of the actual GBSD deployment, Air Force Global Strike Command officials said.

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