AFGSC leaders visit Malmstrom AFB, talk Sentinel Program and Grey Wolf arrival

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

For his first time since stepping into the role of Air Force Global Strike Command Director of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Modernization, Brig. Gen. Colin J. Connor visited Team Malmstrom during a two-day visit Dec. 13-14.

Connor was joined by Maj. Gen. Ty W. Neuman, AFGSC Director of Strategic Plans, Programs and Requirements, and Col. David S. Miller, AFGSC Director of Logistics and Engineering. The three coordinate and advocate for the funding and requirements for the modernization and recapitalization of strategic nuclear forces, to include the LGM-35 Sentinel missile and MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters.

The trio immersed with several base and tenant units to include the 550th and 40th Helicopter Squadrons, the Wing Operations Center, missile alert facilities and launch facilities, all of which will be directly impacted by the upcoming changes to technology.

Connor is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the activities of the Air Force in support of the deployment of the Sentinel ICBM weapon system and the retirement of the Minuteman III ICBM weapon system, which Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has described as being among the most ambitious projects the service has ever undertaken.

The Department of the Air Force is working to replace the aging Minuteman III, the most responsive leg of the triad, with the new Sentinel ICBM. Although certain components and subsystems have been upgraded since the Minuteman III ICBM system first became operational in the early 1970s, most of the system’s fundamental infrastructure still uses the original equipment.
The Sentinel weapon system is the most cost-effective option for maintaining a safe, secure, and effective land-based leg of the nuclear triad and would extend its capabilities through 2075. The project will modernize 400 missiles, 450 silos and more than 600 facilities across almost 40,000 square miles of U.S. territory over 6 states, 3 operational wings and a test location.

In addition to the ongoing modernization of the nation’s ICBM fields spanning Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska, AFGSC is also expecting to receive the new Grey Wolf helicopters as soon as early 2024 to close capability gaps of the currently operated UH-1N Huey in the areas of speed, range, endurance, payload and survivability in support of the command’s ICBM missions.

In total, the Air Force will procure up to 84 MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment from Boeing.

The visit was rich with conversation between the Global Strike leaders, wing leaders and Airmen who provided deeper insight to the mission at the 341st Missile Wing and how its unique history and geolocation contributes to the nation’s nuclear deterrence, and effectively postures it for the incoming modernization efforts.