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Eye in the Sky: 54th Helicopter Squadron secures Team Minot’s missile fields from above

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kyle Wilson
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, hosts several tenant units that are critical to the success of our mission. These units all play a role in Team Minot’s daily operations and provide unique capabilities to Team Minot’s skill set. The 54th Helicopter Squadron is one of these units.

The 54th HS is a geographically separated unit from the 582nd Helicopter Group, headquartered at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. Since 1993, the 54th HS has been assigned to Minot AFB where they provide helicopter response capabilities in support of 91st Missile Wing operations.

The support the 54th HS provides to the 91st MW includes contributing rapid security response capabilities to Team Minot’s missile fields, providing overwatch security during convoy operations, as well as executing search and rescue and medical evacuation operations.

“The primary mission of the 54th HS is nuclear deterrence and nuclear surety,” said Capt. Matthew Weaver, 54th HS aircraft commander. “We’re heavily involved with the 91st MW and supporting their mission.”

“We provide a skill set and dynamic support that only helicopters can provide,” said Senior Airman Daniel Barker, 54th HS special missions aviator instructor.

The 54th HS also integrates with Security Forces units on the ground to provide comprehensive security throughout Team Minot’s missile fields, which cover approximately 8,500 square miles of North Dakota. This includes Tactical Response Force, Convoy Response Force, and in-field Security Forces teams.

“The TRF, CRF, and in-field Security Forces teams all have Forward Observers out in the missile fields that communicate directly with us,” said Barker.

“The assets that we control here are extremely important to defend,” said Weaver. “If anyone was to try to gain access to those, we’re going to respond as quickly as possible.”

The 54th HS currently employs the UH-1N Iroquois as its primary aircraft in daily operations. The UH-1N Iroquois, however, is slated to be replaced in the coming years by the MH-139A Grey Wolf.

“The UH-1N is a very reliable aircraft and it’s worked well for our mission set,” said Barker. “In the next few years, we’re switching to the MH-139 which is going to enhance our capabilities into the far future.”

The combination of capabilities that the 54th HS brings to table is an indispensable asset to Minot AFB. Their vigilance and determination in rapidly responding to and neutralizing potential security threats validate Team Minot’s commitment to nuclear deterrence. They are Team Minot’s eye in the sky.