90 MXG completes ICU II

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sarah Post
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Mighty Ninety Airmen recently completed an extended effort to shift the annual nuclear code change operation from a manual endeavor to a remote process with the new ICBM Cryptographic Upgrade (ICU II) program.

The 90th Missile Wing was the first of Twentieth Air Force’s three missile bases to complete ICU II, giving time back to Airmen to focus on their normal duties of maintaining and sustaining the Minuteman III weapon system.

“Being the first wing to complete ICU II is an accomplishment,” said Master Sgt. Albert David, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 790th Maintenance Squadron technical engineering flight. “In the past and during this changeover process, planning and execution for all 150 sites were tedious. Now that the upgrade is complete, we can now better prioritize our efforts and continue to keep the weapon system operational for as long as possible.”

Code change is an annual requirement that updates data in the Minuteman III weapon system’s computer to ensure a successful ICBM launch. Each launch facility has its own unique code, so maintainers would have to transport the equipment and physically change the code at each missile alert and launch facility.

This process took one week in each of the three missile squadrons, breaking down to 10 LFs in one day and 50 per week. The process required considerable effort from personnel across several units. 10 pen teams, two to three Airmen who open and prep the site, four code change teams of two to three Airmen, 10 security forces team of four, and two courier teams of two Airmen who provide newly coded equipment and bring old equipment back to base, were all required for the process. Overall, the annual code change process required collaboration of many units, teamwork, thousands of man hours and thousands of miles driven across the 9,600 square foot missile field.

ICU II eliminates the need for personnel to spend weeks working 12–14-hour days in the coming years. Instead, future code changes will occur remotely in just one shift and be done by a team of two 90th Operations Group missileers working in launch control capsules at MAFs.

To make the ICU II program possible, maintainers and defenders had to travel to all 150 sites to replace components with technology that provides the new remote capability in the weapon system. Now with the maintenance portion of ICU II complete, personnel can put their focus back onto their duties of maintaining each of the sites in the missile field, as well as the ICBMs on alert.