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54th Helicopter Squadron receives 7th Huey

UH-1N Huey

UH-1N Huey

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 54th Helicopter Squadron received a seventh UH-1N “Huey” helicopter Feb. 28 to increase its mission capability and ability to respond to missile complex needs. 

The process took almost a year, said Col. Dan Ciechanowski, 91st Operations Group commander. The squadron needed the helicopter since the aging fleet, harsh weather conditions and increased mission requirements made it difficult to maintain the required number of mission-capable aircraft.

“The 54th HS gathered historical mission capability data for all four Air Force Space Command helicopter squadrons, completed a comparison analysis and presented the results to 20th Air Force and Air Force Space Command,” said the colonel. “When AFSPC leadership saw the factual data, it was easy for them to determine some reallocation of assets within the command was necessary.”

The helicopter flew in from Corpus Christi, Texas, where it underwent phase maintenance. However, the aircraft was previously assigned to the 76th HS at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

“Prior to Sept. 11, security was one of many secondary missions for the helicopters,” said Maj. David Smith, 54th HS commander. “Since that date, the unit’s primary mission is with security forces in providing security during convoy movements and in the missile field.”

The squadron aids the 91st Security Forces Group Tactical Response Force by providing immediate tactical response to the missile complex.

Only 20th AF intertwines security forces and helicopters in this way, and it is the primary role of the helicopters for the numbered air force, said Lt. Col. Bob Mendenhall, 91st SFG deputy commander.

“This additional helicopter significantly improves our ability to project our air-mobile security forces to the missile complex,” said Col. Dan Adams, 91st Space Wing commander. “This capability serves as a deterrent to those who may be considering a terrorist attack on any of our facilities.”