Increasing Stature

The unfunded requirements that Air Force Space Command has had for items to improve the overall security, maintenance, and handling of the nation’s silo-based Minuteman III fleet have moved up in priority now that reinvigorating the nuclear enterprise is the service’s top priority, Gen. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command, said Sept. 16 at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. “We have made some adjustments in terms of budgeting already,” Kehler told reporters during a press briefing. Now it is a question of deciding which of those projects to fund immediately, versus those items that can wait another year or two for dollars, he explained. He didn’t specify the items. But back in February, the service had many millions of dollars worth of such projects on its list of unfunded requirements for Fiscal 2009, including remote visual assessment devices to protect the missile fields, a new ICBM payload transporter, and ICBM cryptography upgrades. Kehler did say, when asked, that AFSPC has modified its budgeting support of the common vertical lift support platform, the much-desired but heretofore unfunded successor to the UH-1N Hueys that protect the ICBM fields. “We have taken actions within our own budget to make sure that we are providing for a decision on CVLSP,” he said. The Air Force’s desired fielding date for this helicopter, as reflected in the service’s Fiscal 2009 budget documents, is 2015.