By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne is one of three military bases where nuclear missiles will be replaced over the next decade, the United States Air Force announced Friday.
The Air Force plans to begin construction as early as 2023 at the base as it moves forward to replace the Minuteman III ICBMs with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, according to a news release from the Air Force’s Global Strike Command division. The Minuteman III missiles are more than 50 years old.
According to a release from Gov. Mark Gordon’s office, the Cheyenne project is estimated to create 1,000 jobs and lead to more housing development.
“I am extremely excited about this announcement,” Gordon said in the release. “This is a multi-billion dollar project that will benefit the entire state’s economy, while fortifying the nation’s defense. I want to pass on our gratitude to all of the men and women who serve at F.E. Warren, across the Air Force and the entire military.”
Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana will be the second base to see missiles replaced and construction is slated to begin in 2026. Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota will be the third and construction there is expected to begin in 2029.
Construction start dates are pending the completion of environmental impact statements for each base in accordance with federal laws and policies.
Military construction is phased ahead of the actual deployment of the GBSD to allow time for initial checks, ensure facilities are ready for any unique mission equipment and support training and operational certification prior to the first sites obtaining operational status at each wing.
Using infrastructure at the three locations will allow both the Minuteman III and GBSD weapons systems to continue meeting all nuclear surety and safety standards throughout their operational lives, particularly during the transition period.
“Ensuring missile bases remain missile bases makes the most sense for the taxpayer and the mission,” Gen. Tim Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said in the news release. “The Minuteman III is 50 years old. It’s past time to upgrade the missile systems. Our goal is ensure our systems remain fully safe, secure and effective in the defense of our nation and allies.”
The GBSD program’s objective is to deliver a low technical risk, affordable, total system replacement, starting in the late 2020s, to improve the ICBM’s capabilities and provide more efficient operations, maintenance and security at lower lifecycle costs.