The US has one ICBM left—the Minuteman III—and it’s the job of the missile maintainers at Hill AFB, Utah, to see that the Cold War icons remain ready. The base receives the missiles—minus warheads but otherwise in tact—from operational ICBM sites, then the technicians of the 309th Missile Maintenance Group disassemble them, repair the components as needed, test the components, and then reassemble everything. Just the reassembly takes about seven days. The 526th ICBM Systems Wing at Hill provides technical assistance along the way and, once the ICBM is back together, reviews the testing documentation. Base officials say the wing and group managed to cut the maintenance time in half and have returned ICBMs on time for more than a year.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.