Product center completes $250 million program Published Dec. 12, 2005 By 1st Lt. Stephen Fox Electronic Systems Center Public Affairs HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFMCNS) -- The Global Information Grid Systems Group recently completed installation of an emergency communications system at Minot AFB, N.D, the last of 50 identical systems in a program worth more than $250 million. The Minuteman Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network Program, or MMP, which began more than seven years ago, replaces the legacy emergency communication system at Minuteman III Launch Control Centers across 20th Air Force. The control centers are located at Minot AFB, N.D., Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. The systems were designed for the sole purpose of receiving Emergency Action Messages from the National Command Authority in the event of a nuclear strike against the United States, according to Lt. Col. Bryan Bagley, director of the emergency communications. "This upgraded system is a vital link between the NCA-the president and defense secretary-and the Minuteman III missile crews in the field," the colonel said. "It provides the warfighter a communications system that is faster, more secure and dependable than before." The new system replaces a legacy system that contained outdated components, which were pieced together, not optimally located and certainly not integrated, said 1st Lt. John Gould, program manager. The updated system provides a single interoperable terminal with reliable, redundant and secure radio and MILSTAR satellite communication links with Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile forces. It replaces 1970s ICBM radio links with an Extra High Frequency satellite radio connected to a topside antenna. It also upgraded the Very Low Frequency radio links. The new system was designed to function even in the case of an electromagnetic pulse and radiation following a nuclear blast, said Lieutenant Gould. "A nuclear strike could knock out nearly all forms of conventional communication. Radio, telephone, Internet and satellite communications would all be affected," the lieutenant said. "It's imperative that links from the National Command Authority to the warfighter not be broken. This program ensures that important link is maintained." Each system installation was completed in two phases. The first phase, the topside equipment at the missile alert facility, included an Extra High Frequency antenna encased in a 40,000 pound reinforced steel shelter on top of a 60,000 pound concrete foundation. The second phase included replacing the cables to the existing Very Low Frequency antenna and the communications equipment in the underground launch control center. The new system is more robust than the previous system, Lieutenant Gould said. "The EHF communications network, with a topside antenna encased in a steel shelter, is designed to withstand a nearby nuclear blast," the lieutenant said. "The VLF network, with its antenna buried underground, can survive a direct nuclear strike." The reliability of the new system far exceeds the Air Force standard. In fact, the EHF radio is nearly 300 percent more reliable than the accepted standard and the VLF network exceeds the bar by more than 2,200 percent, Lieutenant Gould said. The program also fielded 31 systems to training facilities and five to test facilities and is working on a more than $50 million radio terminal spares production and sustainment contract to provide system spares and depot maintenance and repair through at least 2010. "This program has ensured the United States' ability to rapidly respond to strategic threats for years to come," Colonel Bagley said. "I am very proud to be a part of this team whose dedication, hard work and professionalism over the last seven years ensured the successful delivery of combat capability to the field."