Tuesday , October 10, 2017 - 3:45 AM
Earlier this month, the Air Force awarded two multi-million dollar contracts to upgrade the system military planes use to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles from ground-based silos.
According to an Air Force news release, the contracts begin an effort to modernize the “nuclear command-and-control mission” system that allows the U.S. Strategic Command to launch ICBMs from the Navy’s E-6B Mercury aircraft.
U.S. ICBMs require alternate launch control capabilities — a contingency that’s in place if something were to prohibit the ground-based facilities from launching the ICBMs themselves.
For the currently used Minuteman III ICBM, that alternate launch capability is made possible by 1960s-era radio equipment at each of the 450 Air Force ICBM launch facilities across the U.S. The DoD says the nearly 60-year-old gear and similarly aging equipment on the Mercury aircraft needs to be replaced.
Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson, commander of the center, said the new system will be made to “address new technologies and threats as they emerge.”
In an email, Air Force spokeswoman Leah Bryant said in addition to the oversight role, the program office at Hill will also evaluate the prototypes at a test facility on base.
Though there are no hard numbers available yet, Bryant said new government program manager, test, engineering and product support jobs will be coming to Hill. Bryant also said the DoD and the contractors will be hiring for additional support jobs in the program.
The program office is also renovating a building on base to house the personnel.
The new program dovetails with another that began on base last year.
In December 2016, Sunset Ridge Development broke ground a 75,000-square-foot building at Hill’s Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park. The building is being leased by Lockheed Martin and other tenants working to develop a replacement for the Air Force’s fleet of Minuteman III missiles — a 30-year program worth $62.3 billion.
Last year, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development said that program will create 500 new jobs in Northern Utah.
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