Nuclear weapons center cuts ribbon for new cyber security facility

AFNWC opens new secure facility

(Left to right) Col. Erik Quigley, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Minuteman III Systems Directorate director; Joseph Bradley, Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapon Systems director; and Thomas Lockhart, AFNWC director of engineering, cut the ribbon during the opening of a new CROWS-sponsored secure facility for AFNWC on Sept. 16, 2021, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center recently cut the ribbon on a $1-million investment in secure operations at Hill AFB, Utah.

During the ribbon-cutting, the Air Force’s Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapon Systems turned over the new facility to the AFNWC Minuteman III Systems Directorate.
 
“This new CROWS-sponsored facility provides a multi-level secure workspace and networks to securely and safely display, discuss, and disseminate our Minuteman III digital data amongst the nuclear enterprise stakeholders,” said Col. Erik Quigley, Minuteman III Systems director, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  

The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has been deployed since the 1970s, with an originally planned service life of only 10 years. A series of life extension programs have kept the Minuteman III viable as fielded until it is replaced by the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent ICBM, beginning in the late 2020s.

In 2016, AFNWC leadership saw the need for a secure facility for its Minuteman III mission and asked the CROWS for help.  Located at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts, the CROWS develops common secure environments for the acquisition community to promote Air Force and DoD integration of acquisition security and systems engineering activities.

“A common security environment allows for communications to take place at all levels across the AF in order to share threat, vulnerability, and mitigation information to ensure the AF enterprise is working to resolve problem sets in a collaborative environment,” said Joseph Bradley, CROWS director, who also attended the ribbon-cutting.

“It allows users to share lessons learned, progress and collaborate no matter the level of the information. The Air Force has always struggled with this in the past,” Bradley said. “The construction of common security environments are a key component of the CROWS mission to increase the cyber resiliency of Air Force weapon systems and to maintain mission effective capability under adverse conditions at every stage of the acquisition life cycle, from development planning through sustainment.”

The CROWS is an Air Force-level, interdisciplinary organization established under the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to ensure Air Force weapon systems can perform their missions in a cyber-contested environment.

Headquartered at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, AFNWC is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command, in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command.