STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
Strategic Air Command (SAC) began getting helicopters in the early
1960's when the Minuteman Missile silos were being built. H-19's were
the first helicopters used for the SAC missile support. The
helicopters would carry supplies and parts to distant sites for
timely repair or replacement of parts. In the "early days"
the helicopter would carry missile crewmembers to and from the
distant Launch Control Facilities (LCF) for their tour of duty. The
Missile crewmembers later rejected the helicopter transport because
of late arrivals and weather delays, etc, that resulted in missile
crews being stuck at the site after their duty was over.
In June 1963, Bell won a US Air Force contract for a helicopter to perform missile site support duties resulting in the "UH-1F", a derivative of the UH-1B. The UH-1F had the 14.63 meter (48 foot) diameter rotor and a General Electric (GE) T58-GE-3 turboshaft engine with 963 kW (1,290 SHP). The GE engine was selected in favor of the Lycoming because the Air Force had an overstock of GE T58s and wanted to make use of them. The first UH-1F flew on 20 February 1964 with deliveries beginning in September 1964. A total of 146 were built.
The SAC missile bases received UH-1F helicopters and a few CH-3C's in the mid 1960's. Eventually the only base that had CH-3's was Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.
early 1970's the "Hueys" mission evolved more into security
checks of missile sites. A pilot would take a couple of Security
Police around to sites to complete security checks that were not
accomplished during the night patrol. You would stay out until you
got your allotted 7 hours of flying time before returning to base.
(Actually SAC was trying to justify their helicopter fleet). Also
about this time the need for additional security for convoys carrying
missiles became a new job due to civil unrest in some areas and the
fear of confrontations with militant and anti-war groups while
enroute. A helicopter would fly airborne security patrol over the
convoy to report any sign of problems and carried several Security
Police just in case.
mid-70's, the "F" models had logged a lot of flying hours
and the fleet was getting tired. Some had up to 10,000 hours on the
airframe. In 1974 the SAC helicopters were assigned to Military
Airlift Command (MAC). The aircraft and crews stayed in place at
their respective bases and still accomplished the missile support
role while picking up a Rescue (ARRS) mission. Later in the 1970's
the U.S. Air Force received the twin engine UH-1N to replace the
Now, in 2005, the UH-1N's still perform their dual mission at the missile bases.
the these bases have had their missiles removed and no longer require
helicopters for support. (2005)
Note: The Silo Cover, Control Room, and Titan Missile photos were taken at the Titan Missile Museum south of Tucson, AZ. It was supported by CH-3Cs and Hueys from Davis-Monthan AFB. For anyone interested in this mission, this museum is well worth visiting. It is the only Titan Missile Site Museum in the US.