The 44th Missile Wing (44 MW) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Twentieth Air Force, being assigned to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. It was inactivated on 4 July 1994.
For over 40 years the 44th was a front-line Strategic Air Command wing, initially as a B-47 Stratojet medium bomber unit in the 1950s. With the phaseout of the B-47, the wing became a LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM unit in the 1960s, being inactivated in 1994 as part of the drawdown of U.S. strategic forces after the end of the Cold War.
During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 44th Bombardment Group was the first B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment group of VIII Bomber Command stationed in England. Colonel Leon W. Johnson, while commander of the 44th Bombardment Group, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Ploesti Raid on 1 August 1943.
|44th Missile Wing|
LGM-30F Minuteman II test launch at Vandenburg AFB, California
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Intercontinental ballistic missile|
|Part of||Strategic Air Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Ellsworth Air Force Base|
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|Howell M. Estes II |
Leon W. Johnson
44th Missile Wing emblem
The 44th Bombardment Wing, Medium was established in late December 1950 as part of the postwar Hobson Plan. The 90th Bombardment Group, reactivated by Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1947 was assigned as its combat group. The new wing was organized at March AFB, California where it received B-29 Superfortresses along with some TB-29s. Depended on 22d Bombardment Wing for initial cadre and help in becoming organized.
The wing was reassigned to Lake Charles AFB, Louisiana on 1 August 1951; its mission was to train B-29 and RB-29 aircrews and mechanics for combat duty with units engaged in Korean War combat duty with Far East Air Forces. From 10 October 1951 to 15 May 1952, trained all elements of the 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.
Replaced the propeller-driven B-29s with new B-47E Stratojet swept-wing medium bombers in 1953, capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union. Deployed at Sidi Slimane Air Base, French Morocco, 19 January – 22 February 1953 and 19 April – 17 June 1954.
In the late 1950s, the B-47 was considered to be reaching obsolescence, and was being phased out of SAC's strategic arsenal as improved Soviet air defenses made the aircraft vulnerable. Began sending aircraft to other B-47 wings as replacements in late 1959, being phased down for inactivation. The 44th Bombardment Wing was inactivated on 15 June 1960; some aircraft and many personnel were reassigned to the 68th Bombardment Wing which remained at Lake Charles AFB flying B-47s until 1963.
The history of the 44th Missile Wing begins two years before its activation; with the establishment of the 850th Strategic Missile Squadron on 1 December 1960. Assigned to the 28th Bombardment Wing at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, the 850th SMS operated the first-generation HGM-25A Titan I ICBM at three dispersed sites near Wicksville, Hermosa, and Sturgis SD. However the Titan I's life span was short in western South Dakota.
About the same time, work began on installations for the second-generation Minuteman missile. On 21 August 1961, construction began on the LGM-30B Minuteman I facilities. For more than a year this squadron prepared for the emplacement of the Minuteman which finally arrived in 1962, shortly after the activation of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing (SMW) in January. At that time Headquarters SAC also named the 44 SMW as host wing at Ellsworth. With its activation, the 850th SMS was reassigned to the 44th SMW, making the 28th Bombardment Wing a fully B-52 Stratofortress organization.
During 1962, three new strategic missile squadrons, the 66th, 67th, and 68th, were activated to support the new Minuteman I system. The 67th Strategic Missile Squadron joined the 44th in August, followed by the 68th Strategic Missile Squadron in September 1962. A 44th Missile Maintenance Squadron was established at the same time. Each strategic missile squadron supported five flights of Minuteman missiles with 50 missiles per squadron. A total of 150 launch facilities were constructed to house the missiles. The first Minuteman missile was positioned near Wall, SD in April 1963. All Minuteman I missiles were in place by the end of 1963.
On 19 November 1964, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced the phase-out of remaining first-generation Titan I missiles by the end of June 1965. Consequently, the Titan Is of the 850th SMS were removed from alert status on 4 January 1965. The last missile was shipped out on 12 February. The Air Force subsequently inactivated the squadron on 25 March.
Ellsworth was slated to host a unique series of operational tests. Approved by the Secretary of Defense in November 1964, “Project Long Life” called for the short-range operational base launch of three modified Minuteman IB ICBMs to provide a realistic test for this system. Each missile would contain enough propellant for a 7-second flight and have inert upper stages and reentry vehicles. On 1 March 1965, “Operation Long Life” took place. This was the first of three scheduled launches of the Minuteman system. A missile with seven seconds of fuel was launched.
With the test proving successful, the additional two launches were canceled. This was the only test launch in US ICBM history to be fired from an operational site. It successfully demonstrated the ability of a SAC missile crew to launch an ICBM.
The 44 SMW played a key role in establishing the Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) in the late 1960s. The ALCS was created to provide a survivable launch capability for the Minuteman ICBM force. From 1967 to 1970, one of the squadrons that ALCS missile crews belonged to was the 68th SMS at Ellsworth AFB, SD. These ALCS crews worked together with the 28th Air Refueling Squadron (AREFS) at Ellsworth AFB, who operated several EC-135 variants to include the EC-135A, EC-135G, and EC-135L, all of which had ALCS equipment installed on board. In 1970, the ALCS mission was transferred from the 68th SMS to the 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, which was assigned to the 28th Bombardment Wing at Ellsworth AFB, SD.
On 30 June 1971, the 44 SMW was named host unit at Ellsworth AFB when the 821st Strategic Aerospace Division was inactivated. The wing was reassigned under the 4th Air Division headquartered at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming . The wing was later assigned as part of the 57th Air Division headquartered at Minot AFB, North Dakota.
In October 1971, the transition from Minuteman I to LGM-30F Minuteman II began. The transition, known as “Force Modernization”, was complete in March 1973. With these new missiles in place, Ellsworth was selected to host “Giant Pace Test 74-1,” the first Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman SELM) exercise. During this test, 11 SELM-configured Minuteman II ICBMs underwent successful simulated launch on command from both underground launch-control centers and the Airborne Launch Control System.
During February 1991, the Secretary of Defense announced that the Air Force would begin retirement of older weapon systems in response to the end of the Cold War and a declining defense budget. The deactivation of the Minuteman II missile system was announced on 15 April 1991. The schedule for Ellsworth included a one squadron per year draw-down beginning with the 67 SMS, followed by the 66 SMS, and finally the 68 SMS.
On 1 September 1991, under the "Objective Wing" concept adapted by the Air Force, the wing was renamed the 44th Missile Wing. The ICBM squadrons were reassigned to the newly established 44th Operations Group, along with the lineage, honors and history of the 44th Bombardment Group.
On 28 September 1991, in response to President Bush’s directive to stand down the Minuteman II, personnel of the 44 OG worked around the clock to dissipate launch codes and pin safety control switches at 150 launch facilities. Removal of the first Minuteman II missile assigned to the 44 OG occurred at G-02, near Red Owl, South Dakota, on 3 December 1991. On 6 April 1992, the first launch control center shut down.
On 1 June 1992, the 44th Missile Wing was relieved of its emergency war order mission and its primary focus was deactivation of the Minuteman II weapon system. This day also marked the end of SAC and the beginning of Air Combat Command (ACC).
The 67th Missile Squadron (MS) was inactivated on 15 August 1992, and the 66 MS was inactivated on 1 September 1993. On 1 July 1993 the 44 Missile Wing changed hands from ACC to Air Force Space Command along with all other ICBM wings. Deactivation of the entire missile complex ended in April 1994.
With its mission complete, the 44th Missile Wing was formally inactivated on 4 July 1994.
LGM-30F Minuteman III Missile Alert Facilities (MAF) (each controlling 10 missiles) are located as follows:
The 28th Bomb Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Eighth Air Force (8 AF) of the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) and is stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. The wing is also the "host unit" at Ellsworth AFB.
The wing is one of only two B-1B Lancer strategic bomber wings in the United States Air Force, the other being the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
Active for over 60 years, the 28th was a component wing of Strategic Air Command's deterrent force throughout the Cold War.
The 28th Bomb Wing has been commanded by Colonel John R. Edwards since September 2017. The previous commander was Colonel Gentry Boswell from 2015-2017; its Command Chief Master Sergeant is CMSgt Adam Vizi.44th Fighter Group
The 44th Fighter Group (44 FG) is an Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Tenth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. The 44 FG is an associate unit of the 325th Fighter Wing, Air Combat Command (ACC) and if mobilized the wing is gained by ACC. Otherwise, the 44 FG operates as a geographically-separated unit (GSU) of AFRC's 301st Fighter Wing at NAS JRB Fort Worth, Texas.During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 44th Bombardment Group was the first VIII Bomber Command B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment group stationed in England. It was initially stationed at RAF Cheddington on 11 September 1942, and moved to RAF Shipdham in October. The 44th operated from England for a longer period than any other B-24 group; sustained the highest Aircraft MIA loss of all Eighth Air Force B-24 groups; claimed more enemy fighters than any other Eighth Air Force B-24 group, and was the first group in the VIII Bomber Command to be awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions on 14 May 1943 for an extremely hazardous mission against naval installations at Kiel, Germany
Colonel Leon W. Johnson, while commander of the 44th Bombardment Group, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Polesti Raid on 1 August 1943.
In the postwar era, the 44th Bombardment Group was one of the original ten USAAF bombardment groups assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946.44th Missile Wing LGM-30 Minuteman Missile Launch Sites
This is a list of the LGM-30 Minuteman missile, Missile Alert Facilities and Launch Facilities of the 44th Missile Wing, 20th Air Force, assigned to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
The 44th SMW executed the unique 'Long Life' test of a Minuteman ICBM. The 68th Strategic Missile Squadron performed the only launch of a United States ICBM from an operational inland US missile site from LF November-02 (N-02) on 1 March 1965. The first stage was loaded with only enough propellant for seven seconds of burn time and the upper stages were inert. It successfully demonstrated the ability of a Strategic Air Command missile crew to launch an ICBM.68th Missile Squadron
The 68th Missile Squadron (68 MS) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 44th Operations Group, stationed at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
The 68 MS was equipped with the LGM-30F Minuteman II Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with a mission of nuclear deterrence. With the end of the Cold War, the 68th was inactivated on 5 July 1994.Air Combat Command
Air Combat Command (ACC) is one of ten Major Commands (MAJCOMs) in the United States Air Force, reporting to Headquarters, United States Air Force (HAF) at the Pentagon. It is the primary provider of air combat forces for the Air Force, and it is the direct successor to Tactical Air Command. Air Combat Command is headquartered at Langley Air Force Base, Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia, United States.Atomic tourism
Atomic tourism is a relatively new type of tourism in which visitors learn about the Atomic Age by traveling to significant sites in atomic history such as museums with atomic weapons, vehicles that carried atomic weapons or sites where atomic weapons were detonated.In the United States, the Center for Land Use Interpretation has conducted tours of the Nevada Test Site, Trinity Site, Hanford Site, and other historical atomic age sites, to explore the cultural significance of these Cold War nuclear zones. The book Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America describes the purpose of this tourism as "windows into the American psyche, landmarks that manifest the rich ambiguities of the nation's cultural history." A Bureau of Atomic Tourism was proposed by American photographer Richard Misrach and writer Myriam Weisang Misrach in 1990.The phenomenon is not exclusive to North America. Visitors to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone often visit the nearly deserted city of Pripyat. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), which survived the destruction of Hiroshima, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site at the center of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Bikini Atoll was at one time the site of a diving tourism initiative. As of 2012, China planned to build a tourist destination at its first atomic test site, the Malan Base at Lop Nur in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.During a time in the early atomic age when fission was viewed as a sign of progress and modernity, the city of Las Vegas and its Chamber of Commere nickamed Vegas as the "Atomic City" in the mid 1940s and early 50s in an attempt to attract toursists. So called "bomb viewing parties" took place on desert hilltops, or more famously at the panoramic Sky Room at the Desert Inn, and casinos held Miss Atomic pageants while serving Atomic Cocktails.Ellsworth Air Force Base
Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: RCA, ICAO: KRCA, FAA LID: RCA) is a United States Air Force base located about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Rapid City, South Dakota, just north of the town of Box Elder.
The host unit at Ellsworth is the 28th Bomb Wing (28 BW) assigned to the Global Strike Command's Eighth Air Force. The 28 BW is one of the Air Force's two B-1B Lancer wings (the other is the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas). As of 2017, the 28th Bomb Wing is commanded by Colonel John Edwards; its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Adam Vizi.An expansion of a bomber training area encompassing the Northern Plains known as the Powder River Training Complex began in 2008.Improved Launch Control System
The Improved Launch Control System was a system used by the United States Air Force's Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile force. The system was a method to transfer targeting information from a Minuteman launch control center to an individual missile by communications lines. Prior to the Improved Launch Control System, new missile guidance had to be loaded at the launch facility; the process usually took hours.LGM-30 Minuteman
The LGM-30 Minuteman is a U.S. land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in service with the Air Force Global Strike Command. As of 2018, the LGM-30G Minuteman III version is the only land-based ICBM in service in the United States.
Development of the Minuteman began in the mid-1950s and as the outgrowth of basic research into solid fuel rocket motors which indicated an ICBM based on solids was possible. Such a missile could stand ready for extended periods of time with little maintenance and then launch on command. In comparison, existing U.S. missile designs using liquid rocket propellant required a lengthy fueling process immediately before launch, which left them open to the possibility of a surprise attack. This potential for immediate launch gave the missile its name; like the Revolutionary War's Minutemen, the Minuteman was designed to be launched on a moment's notice.Minuteman entered service in 1962 as a weapon tasked primarily with the deterrence role, threatening Soviet cities with a second strike countervalue counterattack if the U.S. was attacked. However, the development of the U.S. Navy's Polaris missile, which addressed the same role, allowed the Air Force to modify Minuteman into a weapon with much greater accuracy with the specific intent of allowing it to attack hardened military targets, including Soviet missile silos. The Minuteman-II entered service in 1965 with a host of upgrades to improve its accuracy and survivability in the face of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system the Soviets were known to be developing. Minuteman-III followed in 1970, using three smaller warheads instead of one large one, which made it difficult to counter because the ABMs would have to hit all three widely separated warheads to be effective. Minuteman-III was the first multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) ICBM to be deployed. Each missile can carry up to three thermonuclear weapons, and were initially armed with the W62 warhead with a yield of 170 kilotons.
Peaking at 1,000 missiles in the 1970s, the current U.S. force consists of 399 Minuteman-III missiles as of September 2017, deployed in missile silos around Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. The Air Force plans to keep the missile in service until at least 2030. It is one component of the U.S. nuclear triad—the other two parts of the triad being the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers.List of Strategic Air Command bases
The Strategic Air Command of the United States Air Force, and its successor body the Air Force Global Strike Command, operate or formerly operated many air bases both in the United States and in other countries.List of USAF Bomb Wings and Wings assigned to Strategic Air Command
List of USAF Bomb Wings and Wings assigned to the Strategic Air Command and brief information of the unit; including unit nickname, lineage, reassignments, aircraft assignments, and link to main Wikipedia articles for that unit.List of United States Air Force support squadrons
List of United States Air Force support squadrons identifies the United States Air Force squadron, shield, location and support unit. A support squadron supplies all the necessary manpower and equipment needed to continue numerous tasks. An operations support squadron may dictate policy, train aircrews, and maintain airfields based on the missions of the units it supports. This type of unit will also staff the control tower and supply weather forecasts for bases and aircrews.List of United States Armed Forces unit mottoes
Many units of the United States Armed Forces have distinctive mottoes. Such mottoes are used in order to "reflect and reinforce" each unit's values and traditions. Mottoes are used by both military branches and smaller units. While some mottoes are official, others are unofficial. Some mottoes appear on unit patches, such as the U.S. Army's distinctive unit insignia.The use of mottoes is old as the U.S. military itself. A general order issued by George Washington on February 20, 1776, when he was commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, directed that "it is necessary that every Regiment should be furnished with Colours" and the "Number of the Regiment is to be mark'd on the Colours, and such a Motto, as the Colonel may choose, in fixing upon which, the General advises a Consultation amongst them."List of inactive AFCON wings of the United States Air Force
This is a list of inactive Wings in the United States Air Force, focusing on AFCON (HQ Air Force-controlled) wings.
Non-flying or non-combat wings, such as the 1st Medical Service Wing and 1st-7th Weather Wings, 13th, 24th, 25th, 29th, 30th 39th, 59th, 73d, 75th Air Depot Wing, 77th Air Depot Wing, 80th Air Depot Wing, 85th Air Depot Wing, and 88th Air Depot Wings, 39th and 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wings, 82nd Combat Security Police Wing, 501st and 601st Tactical Control Wings, 601st Tactical Air Control Wing, 602d Tactical Air Control Wing (later Air Control Wing, inactivated June 15, 1992), 603d Air Base Wing, 901st-908th Reserve Training Wings (906th at Miami (Miami News, June 24, 1951); 907th at Brooks AFB), Reserve Air Depot Training Wings, are listed in Charles A. Ravenstein, "Air Force Combat Wings: Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-77," Office of Air Force History, Washington DC 1984, viii.List of military nuclear accidents
This article lists notable military accidents involving nuclear material. Civilian accidents are listed at List of civilian nuclear accidents. For a general discussion of both civilian and military accidents, see nuclear and radiation accidents.Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was established in 1999 to illustrate the history and significance of the Cold War, the arms race, and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development. This National Historic Site preserves the last remaining Minuteman II ICBM system in the United States. 450 of the newer Minuteman III missiles are still on active duty at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Minot AFB, North Dakota, and F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.Simulated Electronic Launch Minuteman
Simulated Electronic Launch Minuteman (SELM) is a method used by the United States Air Force to verify the reliability of the LGM-30 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile. SELM replaces key components at the Launch Control Center to allow a physical "keyturn" by missile combat crew members. This test allows end-to-end verification in the ICBM launch process.Twentieth Air Force
The Twentieth Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) (20th AF) is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). It is headquartered at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
20 AF's primary mission is Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) operations. The Twentieth Air Force commander is also the Commander, Task Force 214 (TF 214), which provides alert ICBMs to the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).
Established on 4 April 1944 at Washington D.C, 20 AF was a United States Army Air Forces combat air force deployed to the Pacific Theater of World War II. Operating initially from bases in India and staging through bases in China, 20 AF conducted strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. It relocated to the Mariana Islands in late 1944, and continued the strategic bombardment campaign against Japan until the Japanese capitulation in August 1945. The 20 AF 509th Composite Group conducted the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and remains as the only air force organization to have used a nuclear weapon in combat.
Inactivated on 1 March 1955, the command was reactivated 1 September 1991, as a component of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and became operationally responsible for all land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.United States Air Force Missile Combat Competition
The United States Air Force's Missile Combat Competition is a military competition that recognizes the intercontinental ballistic missile combat crews in the force.
Strategic Air Command (SAC)