UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

5th Bomb Wing

The 5th Bomb Wing is a major Air Combat Command unit and host wing on Minot AFB. Operational control, command jurisdiction and administrative responsibilities of the wing are exercised by Eighth Air Force located at Barksdale AFB, La. The chain of command extends to the Air Combat Command and Headquarters United States Air Force.

Boeing B-52H Stratofortress aircraft allow the 5th BW to achieve its mission: "A dedicated team...ready to deliver massive firepower worldwide, on time, on target, every time." Recent changes in the emphasis of bomber force readiness away from the nuclear standoff role mean a sharper focus on conventional combat capability. The 5th BW is at the forefront of this ability, maintaining a busy schedule for deployments to train realistically.

The first permanent Strategic Air Command unit assigned to Minot AFB was the 4136th Strategic Wing in September 1958. Its flying unit, the 906th Air Refueling Squadron, activated March 24, 1959 and provided air refueling support to the northern defense operations. The first KC-135A Stratotanker, dubbed "Miss Minot," arrived September 23, 1959. The scope of operations grew as the Air Force assigned the 525th Bombardment Squadron to the 4136th. In July 1961, the first B-52H Stratofortress, named "Peace Persuader," arrived on base and within five months the base received its first Hound Dog Missile to give the B-52 its first stand-off capability.

Demonstrating the capabilities of the B-52 bomber, on 10-11 January 1962, a B-52H from the 4136th Strategic Wing atMinot AFB set a new distance in a straight line world record, flying unrefuelled 12,532 miles from Kadena, Okinawa, Torrejon AB, Spain.

Minot AFB's organizational makeup changed in mid-1968, when the 5th Bombardment Wing replaced the 450th Bombardment Wing. These changes were in line with the Air Force policy of keeping active those units with the most illustrious histories.

The 5th BMW added Short Range Attack Missile's to its arsenal in September 1973, and later equipped its bombers with an improved offensive avionics system for more accurate bombing. The 5th BMW activated the Air Launch Cruise Missile on B-52H in October 1989.

Entering the 1990's, Minot AFB demonstrated it's war fighting capabilities by deploying aircraft and personnel to the Middle East for the overwhelming victory over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. The "Cold War" came to an end and the 5th BW aircraft came off alert status in September 1991 after 35 years of continuous alert.

The 5 BW gained the Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACM) for the B-52 in the spring of 1993. In January 1994, the base lost one of its oldest units, the 906th Air Refueling Squadron. The final KC-135 departed Minot three months later.

Eleven active-duty Air Force bases were affected by force structure, realignment and management actions during 1995, the Air Force announced 30 June 1995. The changes were required to execute the fiscal 1996-97 president budget, achieve efficiencies or make organizational changes. The 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, ND inactivated the 72nd Bomb Squadron and began losing 14 B-52H aircraft, resulting in a decrease of 476 full-time military manpower authorizations.

Being one of only two B-52 wings, the 5th BW has had a very active schedule. Deployments to MIGHTY FORCE, COALITION FLAG, and CORONET AQUARIUS, along with several taskings flown directly from Minot AFB. The wing became the first unit to deploy B-52s to Iceland in exercise NORTHERN VIKING in July 1995. During the winter of 1995, the wing became home to the first female combat-qualified B-52 crew member. In June 1996, the wing flew a GLOBAL POWER mission with the secretary of the Air Force. It was the first time any SECAF has flown on a GLOBAL POWER mission. The flight gave the secretary first-hand knowledge of the capabilities of the B-52 to support American's global interests.

To perform its mission, and to support the mission of the 91st Space Wing, four groups are assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing. These are the 5th Operations Group, 5th Support Group, 5th Logistics Group, and 5th Medical Group. In addition, the special staff functions of 5th Comptroller Squadron, Plans, History, Legal, Chaplain, Safety, Command Post, Arms Control, Inspector General, Social Actions, Public Affairs, Manpower and Quality are assigned under the director of staff.

Minot's B-52H's have become as much a part of the Navy's mine-laying and anti-shipping strategy and the Army's ground warfare as it has as a standoff platform for launching conventional cruise missiles.

The bomber's nuclear mission is practiced like any other. Thirty-six B-52s - more than half of the nation's remaining fleet of Buffs - are parked at Minot. The others are at Barksdale AFB, LA. B-52s are parked on the "Christmas tree" alert pad. But aside from security patrols, there's little activity around them. Several of the extra planes sit on the old alert pads. The Wing is directed by Congress to keep extra planes at Minot. The number of B-52s the United States may have is governed by the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. The extra planes are kept ready and flown about every four months. But as of March 1999 the Wing only had enough pilots to fly 12 planes.

The 5th Bomb Wing began to deploy troops in early March 2003 to support the global war on terrorism and to prepare for future contingencies. 14 B-52s from the 23rd Bomb Squadron deployed to RAF Fairford.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:40:39 ZULU