US Air Force, April 04, 2018 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, ND by SA Justin Armstrong - As the loud, galloping clap resonated with each swift revolution, a faint rumble in the distance quickly evolved into distinct hoof beats, with the aerodynamic body slicing through the crisp North Dakota air.
What seems like a speck on the horizon at first, screamed across the plains appearing as a riveted-steel stallion. The UH-1N Iroquois, widely known as the “Huey,” is the 54th Helicopter Squadron’s workhorse at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
The 54 HS’s mission is to provide combat air power in the defense of the 91st Missile Wing’s Airmen and assets in the 8,500 square mile missile complex, to include the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.
“We conduct extensive airborne security for convoys and for the 91 MW’s launch facilities,” said Lt. Col. Philip Bryant, 54 HS commander. “This support includes aerial gunnery, security forces transport, and airborne visual and sensory situational awareness.”
In addition to assisting convoys, the 54 HS operates in the skies performing routine security sweeps and, if needed, supporting emergency security operations.
“We also support other direct missions for the 91 MW, such as emergency maintenance transport to LFs or missile crew member change-outs when the road conditions are hazardous,” stated Bryant.
Members of the 54 HS aircrew conduct extensive aerial gunnery training and flying tactical formations during all hours to stay proficient as a mission-critical component of security operations.
“We train hard day and night with our mission partners, such as security forces, in the event that we need to quickly insert them in the field,” said Senior Airman Jaden Felver, 54 HS special mission aviator. “Our motto is, ‘slow is smooth and smooth is fast.’ We do what we need to do quickly to protect our assets.”
According to Bryant, the UH-1N is a proven and reliable tool for the 54 HS. Thanks to their dedicated maintenance team, the aircraft consistently has one of the best mission capable rates of any Air Force aircraft, and is expected to be in use past 2020.