General Charles Brown, Jr. (Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force), General Timothy Ray (commander of Air Force Global Strike Command), and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) visited Malmstrom Air Force Base on Friday.
Malmstrom is home to the 341st Missile Wing, which operates and maintains 150 Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. The missiles are located in silos across north and central Montana.
They toured the base and visited a missile launch facility and the weapons storage facility. They also met with some of the missileers and other base personnel.
In addition, they visited the facility that will house the new Grey Wolf helicopters the base is scheduled to receive; they will replace the aging Vietnam-era fleet currently in use. Tester estimated the helicopters are likely to arrive in October of 2022.
Tester noted, "As has been pointed out many times, this was (former President) John F. Kennedy's 'ace in the hole' during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We need to make sure we're up to par with, actually better than, what is happening in China and Russia in particular."
Tester is the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which allocated funding of $700 billion annually to the Department of Defense and other agencies.