Minot completes Minuteman emergency communications upgrade

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carla Williams
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 91st Space Wing completed the last modifications to its Minuteman minimum essential emergency communication network at the Oscar-01 missile alert facility in the Minuteman missile complex.

The completion of Oscar-01, Nov. 11, marked the final modification to the last of 50 launch control centers in 20th Air Force. Other bases where modifications took place include Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.

“This brings our higher authority warfighting communications systems into the 21st century,” wing commander Col. Dan Adams said. 

The $250 million emergency communication system enhances the communications capability during an unconventional strike against the United States, said 1st Lt. John Gould, network program manager from Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

“Under the old system, receiving presidential directives was difficult during certain types of atmospheric nuclear detonations. Now, missile combat crews have a significantly improved capability to receive presidential directives throughout the full spectrum of nuclear conflict,” the lieutenant said.

In 1999, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed development of the network to replace the survivable low frequency communications system installed in 1962.

Kent Huebner, a network technical advisor and communications engineer from Hanscom, said the new system also provides a Milstar satellite capability in the extremely high frequency range with transmission security the old system did not have.

The project consisted of two phases. The first phase included installing the topside equipment at each missile alert facility. This included a 40,000-pound solid steel antenna shelter and a 60,000 pound concrete foundation. The second phase included upgrading the communication equipment inside the underground launch control centers so missile crews can communicate to the antennas, Mr. Huebner said.

Mr. Huebner, who has seen the program through its infancy, said there were other upgrade program started, but not completed because for various reasons. The last upgrade to the older system was made in 1977.

“It’s a privilege to be a part of the completion of this project,” Mr. Huebner said. “It’s not often you get to see the projects you start completed.”