NonStop Local: Montana Senators continue to press Air Force leadership for answers on Sentinel project timeline

by Joee Taylor

Montana Senators are continuing to press military leadership for answers regarding the Sentinel project, which will modernize and replace the current Minute Man III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System with the new Sentinel Missiles. 

“This project will never happen unless we have a date to start,” said Montana Senator Jon Tester. 

Currently, the project is undergoing a Nunn-McCurdy review due to the cost and schedule increases. 

U.S. Senate committee hearing, the subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, Senator Tester grilled Air Force Leaders on a handful of things when it comes to the project. 

Including workforce and having Montana Workers build the project. 

“If they bring in 4,000-5,000 workers it’s going to take to do this from outside the state to do this project, they will create a tremendous animosity towards the Air Force on this. Montana’s built Minuteman I and they’ll build this one too if you give them an opportunity to do that,” said Senator Tester. 

And funding… 

“We put $200 million towards Sentinel in FY 2024… If we don’t know when this project’s going to start, I don’t know how you can spend that money in a way that’s cost-effective to the taxpayer and for our nation’s security,” said Senator Tester. 

But most importantly, the timeline. 

“We’re going to study with Nunn-McCurdy. We can study, study, study, study, study. If we study the Chinese are going to eat our lunch. We’ve got to plan. We’ve got to do it right. This isn’t nuclear physics; it’s a lot of damn work. And so, we need to get on it. Please, please, please, please, please do that,” said Senator Tester. 

We reached out to Senator Steve Daines for his take on the issue, and he sent us this statement: “The mission at Malmstrom plays an important role in our national security and helps America achieve peace through strength, which is why I’m very concerned with the Air Force’s Nunn-McCurdy violation on the Sentinel Project (GBSD). I’ve been pressing the Air Force for answers as to what support tasks, such as base infrastructure, hardened electrical systems, and fiber optic communications, can be conducted in tandem with the GBSD installation in order to reduce the cost and scheduling concerns with the violation.”

In the meeting, Lieutenant General Miller promised to get an answer on the timeline for the Sentinel Project’s start date.

He also suggested that the USAF Program Office would be working with communities like Great Falls to ensure that the workforce is prepared to start the project.