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ake a look inside the Oscar Missile Alert Facility, near Grover

 GROVER, CO – MAY 26:Colonel Deane Konowicz, 90th Missile Wing vice commander, left, speaks to journalists during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

Located near Grover in Weld County, the Oscar Missile Alert Facility is one of 15 such facilities across Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado.

Part of the the 90th Missile Wing of the United States Air Force, the Oscar MAF has been operational for 24 hours per day for 365 days per year since it opened in 1963. Four other missile alert facilities are located throughout northern Colorado. Col. Deane R. Konowicz is the vice commander of the 90th Missile Wing, which runs operations at the facility.

The 90th Missile Wing personnel “provide strategic nuclear deterrence by operating, maintaining, securing and supporting 150 Minuteman lll Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles which are constantly ready to launch at the direction of the President of the United States,” according to U.S. Air Force’s biography of Konowicz.

Last week, the Oscar MAF crew hosted a media day to demonstrate what they do, what the facility offers and what goes on at the facility on a day-to-day basis.
 

GROVER, CO – MAY 26:First Lieutenant Emily Seaton, 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs officer, holds a poster showing the locations of the United States land-based ICBM fields during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)


GROVER, CO – MAY 26:First Lieutenant Emily Seaton, 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs officer, holds a poster during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

The Oscar MAF is a fully sustainable home to many members of the Air Force. Personnel rotate in and out by coming to the facility to work for a week, going back to the Wyoming base for a week or longer, and then coming back to the facility again for a week. On average, there are about 16-20 personnel on site at a time.

Since many people live there for a week straight, the Oscar MAF becomes a home away from home for these soldiers. A chef cooks three meals per day using a widespread menu. There’s also a built-in arcade, cornhole, horseshoes, LED shower lights and more.

In addition to features that bring some common comforts to the lives of the crew, the facility is designed with safety for both the staff and the public in mind. For example, the Oscar MAF has a Missile Security Forces Squadron with two Humvees to respond to any security threats.

GROVER, CO – MAY 26:Tech Sergeant Caleb Ferguson, of the 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, speaks to journalists during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)
GROVER, CO – MAY 26:The inside of a Security Forces Humvee is seen during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

Communication at a missile alert facility is crucial. Oscar has ultra high frequency radio to talk to aircraft, as well as a a very high frequency radio to communicate through satellite. The site’s communications go through a communication tower that stands at 185 feet tall.

GROVER, CO – MAY 26:A radio tower stands into the sky during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)
GROVER, CO – MAY 26:First Lieutenant Morad Murad, 321st Missile Squadron nuclear and missile operations officer, left, stands near a white cone that serves as a UHF radio antenna during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

Other notable features at the site include a water treatment room with a well containing 65,000 gallons of water. Crews use a snow removal machine to help maintain certain roads in northern Colorado. Also, a 75-foot-by-75-foot helicopter pad occupies the grounds in case a helicopter needs to transport people to and from the Oscar MAF.

The 1,500-square-foot facility has a back-up generator for power outages. Everything is built with safety in mind, with even some equipment being nuclear certified, which means items must go through a certification process to be used in nuclear operations. These items need to be able to survive nuclear detonation.

GROVER, CO – MAY 26:Tech Sergeant Grant Needham, left, and Staff Sergeant Jacob Nevills, facility managers in the 321st Missile Squadron, speak to journalists in the water treatment room during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

Now imagine taking a ride 60 feet underground into a highly secured room dedicated to observing some of the most powerful weapons in the military.

In the launch control center, launch crews, consisting of two nuclear and missile operations officers, spend 24 hours straight watching 10 missiles that are 3-5 miles away from Oscar everyday.

Missile sites are monitored for any faults that appear. They can be sensitive and can react to things like animals and weather. But the officers are there to make sure the faults aren’t threats. They’re also there to be prepared for orders to launch any of these missiles.

Since the 1970s, the 90th Missile Wing has operated these LGM-30G Minuteman III missiles. A factsheet about LGM-30G Minuteman III provided by the U.S. Air force explains how they work.

“The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of intercontinental range,” according to the factsheet. “Missiles are dispersed in hardened silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center through a system of hardened cables.”

Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, located in Wyoming, is home the the 90th Missile Wing, which includes the Oscar MAF. The base was the first operational Intercontinental Ballistic Missile base in the United States. A 90th Missile Wing factsheet states the wing’s vision.

“The Mighty Ninety, inspired by heritage, empowered by Airmen and driven by innovation,” the 90th Missile Wing factsheet said. “The world’s most trusted, dominant ICBM force.”

GROVER, CO – MAY 26:Staff Sergeant Jacob Nevills, facility manager in the 321st Missile Squadron, right, speaks to journalists during a tour of Missile Alert Facility Oscar-01, part of the 90th Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force outside of Grover May 26, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

 

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