The 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.

Whiteman AFB H-19

Missile Site Control Room

Titan Missile in Silo

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.

In the 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.

Silo Cover

By the 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 UH-1F's.

Now, in 2005, the UH-1N's still perform their dual mission at the missile bases.

Some of 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.