OGDEN — An amendment to the U.S. Senate’s current budget resolution will provide some security for the Department of Defense’s intercontinental ballistic missile replacement program, which is headquartered at Hill Air Force Base.
Late last week, the House of Representatives approved a Senate-amended budget resolution, which triggers the process to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. While the pandemic relief dollars are the centerpiece, the budget resolution also establishes various other funding totals and divides spending totals into functional categories like transportation and defense.
An amendment in the resolution introduced by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, creates a “deficit-neutral reserve fund” to ensure “continued, expedient intercontinental ballistic missile modernization.”
According to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Public Affairs office, the current U.S. Minuteman III missile fleet was fielded in the 1970s, with an initial 10-year service life, and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The launch infrastructure system spreads across five states and includes 400 missiles, 450 launch facilities and 45 launch control centers — all on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hill serves as headquarters for the program that will replace the old intercontinental ballistic missiles of the nation’s land-based leg of the nuclear triad.
Known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, the initiative involves the acquisition of new missiles, new command and control systems and, eventually, large-scale renovations of launch control centers. According to the Congressional Research Service, the program is estimated to cost more than $80 billion over its 30-year life span.
Currently being built up near Hill’s southwest border with Roy, the program will eventually include six new buildings on base with over 1 million square feet of office and lab facilities. In August 2019, Northrop Grumman broke ground on the Roy Innovation Center, which will serve as future headquarters for Northrop’s work supporting the program.
Romney and other members of Utah’s congressional delegation have said the GBSD program is expected to bring as many as 4,000 new employees to Northern Utah. Base officials have said the program will be Hill’s largest source of growth over the next decade. Romney and fellow Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee have formally urged the Defense Department to avoid potential delays in the program, and the establishment of the reserve fund is meant to help reach that end.
In a statement, Romney said the amendment reaffirms “our commitment to strengthening our alliances and partnerships, modernizing our military equipment and missile defense, and advancing research in technology.”
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, a bill separate from the current budget resolution, includes $86 million in GBSD-related construction at Hill.