The 341st Missile Wing, headquartered at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, is one of three U.S. Air Force bases that maintains and operates the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The 341st Missile Wing reports directly to 20th Air Force, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and is part of Air Force Global Strike Command, headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
The mission of the 341st Missile Wing is Airmen defending the American way of life with combat-ready ICBMs.
Approximately 4,000 people, including more than 3,300 active-duty and 600 civilians, comprise the 341st Missile Wing.
The 341st Missile Wing is made up of a wing staff and five groups - the 341st Operations Group, 341st Maintenance Group, 341st Mission Support Group, 341st Security Forces Group and 341st Medical Group. The base is also host to two tenant units, the 819th RED HORSE Squadron and the 40th Helicopter Squadron.
The 341st Operations Group consists of more than 400 operators, administrators and facility managers, and is composed of three missile squadrons, an operations support squadron and a standardization and evaluation element. Each of the operations group's three missile squadrons are responsible for five missile alert facilities and 50 launch facilities. The units of the 341st Operations Group include the 10th Missile Squadron, 12th Missile Squadron, 490th Missile Squadron and 341st Operations Support Squadron.
The 341st Maintenance Group provides the maximum number of fully modernized, combat capable Minuteman III missiles and the command and control systems required to execute launch per higher command authority. The Air Force has made significant commitments to extend the service life of the Minuteman force through 2030 and those commitments have worked their way down to the 341st Maintenance Group's level, resulting in tangible improvements to the combat capability of Malmstrom's Minuteman IIIs. The units of the 341st Maintenance Group include the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron, 741st Maintenance Squadron and 341st Munitions Squadron.
The 341st Mission Support Group provides world-class support to enable the deterrent mission of the 341st Missile Wing, while preparing and deploying expeditionary combat support forces in support of the combatant commanders. The support group provides the war-fighting and peacetime support to the 341st Missile Wing. This includes resource protection, engineering and construction, disaster preparedness, personnel administration, communication services, recreation facilities, dining and lodging services and worldwide contingency mobility forces. The units of the 341st Mission Support Group include the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron, 341st Communications Squadron, 341st Contracting Squadron, 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 341st Force Support Squadron.
The 341st Security Forces Group, the largest security forces group in the Air Force, ensures the most stringent security forces' support to the largest ICBM missile complex in the world through effective management of all war-fighting and peacetime security taskings assigned to the 341st Missile Wing. The units of the 341st Security Forces Group include the 341st Security Forces Squadron, 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron, 841st Missile Security Forces Squadron and the 341st Security Support Squadron.
The 341st Medical Group is responsible for all medical and dental care for nearly 15,000 beneficiaries throughout north-central Montana. The group's mission is to maximize 341st MW personnel health, fitness and readiness through comprehensive managed health care systems emphasizing health promotion and preventive medicine. The units of the 341st Medical Group include the 341st Medical Operations Squadron and the 341st Medical Support Squadron.
The 341st Missile Wing operates Minuteman III missiles which provide the critical component of America's on-alert strategic forces. The wing also hosts a mission partner, the 40th Helicopter Sqaudron, that operates 8 UH-1N "Huey" helicopters throughout a 13,800 square-mile missile complex. The helicopters are used as a force-multiplier in day-to-day security of the missile complex.
Malmstrom AFB is also host to the 819th RED HORSE squadron. The Malmstrom squadron is the first "associate" RED HORSE squadron in the Air Force, approximately two-thirds active-duty and one-third Air National Guard (the Montana Air National Guard 219th RED HORSE Squadron). The 819th RED HORSE squadron was reactivated Aug. 8, 1997, at Malmstrom AFB.
The 341st Missile Wing's history dates back to Sept. 15, 1942, when it was activated as the 341st Bombardment Group. Following a period of redesignation and inactivation, the unit activated as the 341st Strategic Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, under Strategic Air Command.
The wing's first flight of Minuteman I missiles, assigned to the 10th Strategic Missile Squadron, became alert-ready Oct. 27, 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Two more strategic missile squadrons, the 12th and the 490th, became operational by July 1963, bringing the wing up to a full strength of 15 flights consisting of 150 missiles.
In August 1964, the Air Force announced the wing would replace its Minuteman I missiles with the Minuteman II. This replacement program included the creation of a fourth strategic missile squadron at Malmstrom, the 564th. Construction on the 564th SMS began in March 1965. The fourth squadron gave the 341st a total strength of 200 missiles spread throughout a 13,800-square mile complex, making it the largest missile complex in the world. It covered nine Montana counties (Cascade, Choteau, Fergus, Judith Basin, Lewis and Clark, Pondera, Teton, Toole and Wheatland). The upgrade of the wing's Minuteman IIs began in August 1967 and ended in May 1969.
In January 1975, the 564th SMS began replacing its 50 Minuteman IIs with the newer Minuteman III missiles, which were declared operational in July 1975. For years, Malmstrom had the unique distinction of being the only base to operate Minuteman II and III systems simultaneously.
On July 31, 1991, George H.W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, concluding almost ten years of strategic disarmament talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. President Bush announced a force drawdown in September 1991, and for the first time since 1962, all of the 341st's 150 Minuteman II missiles stood down. Only the 564th Missile Squadron and its 50 Minuteman III missiles remained on alert.
The wing began reducing the number of Minuteman IIs following the drawdown announcement, replacing the systems with the newer Minuteman III. The program was put on hold during the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and Malmstrom had only 80 missiles on alert. The BRAC called for the closure of the missile field at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, and the transfer of Minuteman IIIs from Grand Forks to Malmstrom. The 341st Missile Wing's last Minuteman II missile was removed in August 1995, and since then the wing has operated only the Minuteman III.
With the conclusion of the Cold War came the eventual transfer of all missile wings, including the 341st, from Air Combat Command to Air Force Space Command in 1993 and the redesignation of the wing to the 341st Space Wing on Oct. 1, 1997.
On July 1, 2008, the wing returned to its previous designation as the 341st Missile Wing and in August 2008 officially inactivated the 564th Missile Squadron bringing the number of missile squadrons down to three.
On Dec. 1, 2009, the 341st Missile Wing, along with all the other missile wings, transferred from Air Force Space Command to Air Force Global Stike Command.
The 341st Missile Wing operates, maintains and secures Minuteman III missiles, providing strategic deterrence for the nation as the wing has continuously done since 1962 - remaining America's "Ace in the Hole."