Hill AFB expansion is part of updating U.S. nuclear defense

Oct 19, 2022, 6:58 PM | Updated: 10:11 pm

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — A federally funded non-profit announced it had expanded its presence at Hill Air Force Base Wednesday in an ongoing effort to update the country’s nuclear missile program to keep up with the programs in other countries like China and Russia.

The Aerospace Corporation has been working with the U.S. Air Force for more than 60 years. In 2008, they saw a need to expand to Utah with two staff members.

Fourteen years later that number has grown to 38 personnel and a 24,000 square-foot office space on base that is expected to draw an additional 100 visiting engineers and scientists annually and an estimated $13 million by the end of 2023.

“Aerospace brings in years of experience with respect to space launch,” said Rick Ladue, the organization’s systems director at HAFB. “Which is directly related to the launch of nuclear weapons.”

Nuclear threats have increased recently from some countries. Russia’s president has repeatedly threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons in the war on Ukraine.

“The current [U.S.] system has been fielded for over 50 years. And there’s a modernization effort to keep up with our adversaries’ modernization capabilities to replace the current program and to maintain our nuclear deterrent capability for the national security of this country,” Ladue said.

In this year’s Annual Threat Assessment, the intelligence community said China and Russia are expanding and upgrading their nuclear weapon capabilities.

“Nuclear deterrence is very important to our way of life in this country for national security,” Ladue continued, adding that the U.S. is making the nuclear missile program a priority.

“There’s an investment in this weapon system to modernize based on the adversary’s capability. Nuclear weapons are not going away anytime soon.”

That reality is a big reason why Aerospace has expanded its presence at Hill Air Force Base to 38 personnel and that 24,000 square foot office space.

Ladue said the federally funded nonprofit has the experience, the engineers, and the scientists to help the Air Force keep the country’s nuclear capability current and help Americans sleep well at night.

“Americans can feel safe with respect to nuclear weapons,” he said. “Our objective is mission assurance 100% of the time. That the systems are available and function as designed 100% of the time.”

Aerospace will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion during an event at the new office space on Thursday.

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Hill AFB expansion is part of updating U.S. nuclear defense