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20 June 2002. Thanks to M, see related nuclear missile field:

17 June 2002
Source of maps and photos: and TerraServer USGS 18 May 1995.

Minot Air Force Base:

From the report Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998, by William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris and Joshua Handler, published in March 1998 by the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Rank: No. 5

Nuclear Warheads: 1140


NORTH DAKOTA ranks 5th in number of nuclear warheads deployed, a decline from 4th place in 1992 (when 1,650 warheads were deployed), and 3d in 1985. There are two nuclear bases in the state, Minot AFB and Grand Forks AFB. Minot hosts a B-52H Bomb Wing and a Minuteman III ICBM wing. Grand Forks hosts a missile wing but is in the process of transferring 150 Minuteman missiles to Malmstrom. Though there will be no bombers or missiles there shortly a weapons storage area will be maintained and hold nuclear contingency weapons.

Minot AFB, located 12 miles north of the town of Minot and about 100 miles north of Bismarck, is host to bombers and missiles. A B-52H unit—the 5th Bomb Wing of the 8th Air Force, Air Combat Command—is armed with an estimated 140 gravity bombs (50 B61-7 and 90 B83) and 300 stealth Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACMs) and 100 ALCMs. The Minuteman III missiles at Minot are subordinate to the 91st Space Wing (formerly Missile Wing) of the 20th Air Force, Air Force Space Command. The 150 Minuteman III missiles (with 450 W78 warheads) controlled from Minot are dispersed over 8,500 square miles in an arc from south of the base to within a mile or two of the Canadian border.

In the early 1950s the Air Force began surveying the northern plains states for suitable fighter-interceptor base locations, believing that the trans-polar route would be how Soviet bombers would attack the U.S. Minot was chosen, construction began in 1956, and the 5,minot-acre base opened the following year. While it began as an Air Defense Command base, the first permanent Strategic Air Command (SAC) unit came in 1958. Northern bases also offered advantages for trans-polar attacks on the Soviet Union, and B-52 bombers arrived in July 1961.

Construction of Minuteman I ICBM silos dispersed over 8,000 square miles of North Dakota began in January 1962 and 150 missiles were operational by April 1964. In 1970, a one year project to convert to the MIRVed Minuteman III began. These essentially remain the 150 Minuteman III ICBMs at Minot today, except for a W78/Mk12A warhead/reentry vehicle upgrade from December 1979 to February 1983.

The 91st Missile Wing at Minot received an NSI from February 19 to 26, 1993 and was rated excellent. ACC Nuclear Staff Assistance Visits (NSAVs) were conducted at Minot in January and October 1993, and again in January 1995 in preparation for a 1995 “Enhanced” NSI. The 5th Bomb Wing received a USAF Nuclear Surety Plaque in 1994 “for demonstrating outstanding capability to support a nuclear airlift mission.” And it again received a USAF Nuclear Surety Plaque in 1995 for “outstanding achievements” and “contributions” to nuclear security during the ACC August enhanced NSI. Another NSAV was conducted in February 1996, and from June 9-22, 1996, the Wing underwent a Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection (NORI). In 1994, the 321st Missile Group was also awarded the nuclear surety plaque “for distinguished performance.” In 1995, the 321st and subordinate squadrons again received an excellent/outstanding rating in its NSI.


Minot WSA Coordinates:

48N 24' 37", 101W 18' 43"

5,364,500.0, 328,900.0