HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Chalk up another win for Hill personnel with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center ICBM Systems Directorate. The unit, with its headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, recently received the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award for the fifth time since the center stood up in 2006.
“We manage 30 acquisition programs and hundreds of sustainment programs valued at more than $10 billion, ensuring our nation’s most powerful weapons are never doubted and always feared,” said Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris, AFNWC commander and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems. The center’s AFOEA awards now span eight consecutive years, from 2009 to 2016.
“Our efforts during the award period were also integral to the sustainment of two legs of the United States’ nuclear triad in 2016, including the Minuteman III ICBM,” Morris said. For example, a 970-member team supported the sustainment of 450 ICBMs at locations spanning several states and three missile wings.
“The team helped ensure a more than 99-percent alert rate, the single highest sustained alert rate in ICBM history,” Morris said.
They also direct the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, the follow-on system to replace the aging LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM. The new GBSD weapon system will meet existing nuclear deterrence requirements, while having the adaptability and flexibility to affordably address changing technology and threat environments through 2075, according to Morris. Deployment is projected to begin in the late 2020s.
During 2016, the center initiated the Long Range Standoff Weapon program, the replacement for the aging AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile. LRSO’s range, survivability, reliability and credibility are key elements of the air-delivered leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, according to Morris. The Air Force plans to start fielding LRSO by 2030.
The center also managed a $44-million effort to integrate the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb with the F-15E Strike Eagle and the B-2 Spirit aircraft.
In addition, AFNWC nuclear experts led the update of the nuclear delivery technical orders for four aircraft, providing safe escape guidance to aircrews and U.S. Strategic Command.
During the year, center experts conducted an Air-Force-wide health assessment of nuclear command-and-control communication (NC3) systems. They assessed more than 60 NC3 systems valued at over $15 billion.
Several of the center’s organizations received significant recognition in 2016, which contributed to AFNWC winning the current award.
Military and civilian members assigned or attached to AFNWC from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, are authorized to wear the AFOEA ribbon. Anyone with questions about wearing the ribbon should contact their local force support squadron or manpower and personnel office.
The AFNWC has about 1,100 personnel assigned to 18 locations worldwide, including at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts; Hill AFB, Utah; Eglin AFB, Florida; and Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, as well as at several embed locations throughout the United States and Europe.
(75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article.)