Members of the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 219th Security Forces Squadron at Minot Air Force Base made history when they assumed control of security for a sector of the base’s missile fields during a recent exercise, according to a base release. During the late-May drill, the Air Guardsmen were in charge of protecting the northern sector of the base’s Minuteman III fields and dealt with scenarios ranging from suicide bombers to launch facility breaches, states the release. The drill was the “graduation” event for the squadron to show that its airmen could run the missile field security and seamlessly integrate with Minot’s Active Duty security forces, states the release. Col. Robert Vercher, commander of Minot’s 91st Missile Wing, called the exercise “a huge milestone, major success,” noting that having the Air Guardsmen in control “has actually never occurred before.” In May 2007, the 219th SFS began helping Minot’s Active Duty security forces to protect the base’s 150 missiles, which are spread over an area in northwestern North Dakota about the size of New Jersey, according to the May 31 release. (Minot report by Army Sgt. 1st Class Amy Wieser Willson)
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.