Malmstrom’s Bunk-to-Cockpit Bunch

Tasked with securing Minuteman III ICBMs, crews of the 40th Helicopter Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., have begun 24-hour alert operations with their UH-1N Hueys. This is part of a nine-month look into ways to diminish response times to threats across the vast missile fields that they protect. Officials will evaluate everything from effects on aircraft and crews to “manning requirements, safety factors . . . currency and proficiency implications, and basic overall tactical effectiveness,” to develop best operational procedures, said Lt. Col. Carl Mullen, 40th HS director of operations. During the alert shifts, flight and maintenance crews eat, live, and sleep on site, ready to deploy a tactical response force on demand within minutes. For the second stage of this evaluation, helicopter crews at the Air Force’s two other missile bases—Minot AFB, N.D., and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.—will likewise begin alert. (Malmstrom report by SSgt. Dillon White)