Enhancing the way MXS trains

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
In order for Airmen to be effective across the spectrum of conflict from day-to-day deterrence and assurance operations to nuclear strike, they must be ready and equipped with the right tools and training to do the job.

Late this summer, one of Malmstrom's on-base maintenance trainers, T-9, will begin to be modified to better reflect the configuration of current launch facilities in the missile field.

In 1961, construction began at Malmstrom AFB for the Air Force's first wing of 150 underground Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile launchers arranged as three squadrons. This Wing I configuration of launchers became fully operational in July 1963, and is currently operated by the 10th, 12th and 564th Missile Squadrons. Five additional Minuteman wings were constructed elsewhere in the United States, each with incremental design changes and improvements for the weapon system, before the Air Force announced in 1964 it would add a squadron of 50 Minuteman II missiles to Malmstrom's missile complex.

This final squadron for the Air Force was built in the Wing VI configuration, meaning it was similar in design to the Air Force's sixth Minuteman wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, the last wing completed. Construction of Malmstrom's additional Minuteman squadron began in March 1965, and was fully on alert in May 1967, as the 564th Strategic Missile Squadron.

In 2008, the 564th Missile Squadron was deactived in compliance with the New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, leaving the base without any Wing VI configured launch facilities.

"The current (trainer) here will be configured completely into a Wing I launch facility," said Tech Sgt. Brian Thomas, 741st Maintenance Squadron NCO in charge of trainer maintenance. "Now that we no longer have Wing VI, we want to turn this one into a Wing I configuration."

Members of the 741st MXS are directly supporting the preparation for the T-9 modification, which should begin at the end of July, according to Thomas.

"Over the last two months we have been moving everything out of the launch facility," said Maj. James Spoo, 741st MXS commander. "Once the final pieces are out, we then wait for the Air Force to determine who the contractor will be. The contractor will come in and redo the whole site, and prep to convert the facility into a Wing I system."

The modifications being done will revamp everything, and custom fabrications for the systems will be implemented.

"This is going to be a three-year conversion project," said Spoo. "Once the conversion is done, the training site will look like every other site. When our Airmen come to train, they will see pretty much what they would on a live facility."

The Wing I configuration is instrumental to the training process. A lot of what the technicians work on are problems that could happen in the missile field.

"If we are able to train (our Airmen) on base to learn from their mistakes, they will be better prepared for the situation in the field," said Thomas.

According to Spoo, if the technicians know how to handle the situation before approaching it, they will be better prepared for it.

"The more we are able to train on base, the better it is for our Airmen," said Spoo. "We don't have to coordinate with other members involved."

Maintenance is not the only organization that uses the trainer facilities on base. The explosive ordnance disposal unit, security forces and the tactical response force also utilize the trainer.

"We want to make sure we meet the (United States Strategic Command's) objectives to have the required number of missiles on alert, in order to meet the president's directives," said Spoo.