The 91st Missile Wing is an intercontinental ballistic missile wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. The 91 MW is one of the Air Force's three ICBM wings. The missile wing is responsible for defending the United States by operating, maintaining and securing a fleet of Minuteman III missiles located in underground launch facilities scattered across the northwest part of the state. The wing's missile complex stretches over 8,500 square miles -- approximately 12% of North Dakota.
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The missile wing includes a total force of nearly 1,800 Airmen, including enlisted members, officers and civilians.
The 91 MW is an element of Twentieth Air Force and Air Force Global Strike Command. The Wing’s on-alert missiles remain under the operational control of the nation's strategic war-fighting command, U.S. Strategic Command. The wing's major organizations include three groups and special staff functions.
-91st Operations Group
-91st Maintenance Group
-91st Security Forces Group
In addition, the 91 MW is supported by the 54th Helicopter Squadron, 219th Security Forces Squadron, 583d Missile Maintenance Squadron, and the 373d Training Squadron, Detachment 23.
The 91st Missile Wing began as the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, activated on Nov. 10, 1948. The wing, originally equipped with RB-29s, and later RB-45Cs and RB-47s, flew aerial mapping and worldwide strategic reconnaissance missions, sending detachments of personnel and aircraft to England, Morocco and Greenland, as well as providing RB-29s and RB-45s to the Far East Bomber Command during the Korean War.
The wing set records with the RB-45, the world's first multi-engine jet bomber, and pioneered aerial refueling with converted B-29s. On July 14, 1951 a 91st Air Refueling Squadron KB-29 refueled an RB-45 over North Korea, marking the first aerial refueling over enemy territory, and on January 17, 1952, the squadron became the first to transfer more than two million gallons of fuel during aerial refueling operations. On July 29, 1952 a 91st SRW crew earned the MacKay Trophy for making the first non-stop trans-Pacific flight of a multi-engine jet aircraft. The RB-45C required two aerial refueling from KB-29s to make the flight, and all of the aircraft involved in the operation were manned by members of the 91st SRW. After the war, the wing continued operations, sending detachments to fly near or over enemy territory until it's inactivation in November 1957.
The Air Force activated the wing as the 91st Bombardment Wing at Glasgow AFB, Mont., in February 1963. The wing, equipped with B-52C and D bombers and KC-135 tankers, deployed to the Pacific twice, in 1966 and again in 1968, to fly bombing and refueling missions over Southeast Asia. In June 1968, just as the deployed aircraft and personnel were returning to Glasgow AFB, the Air Force closed the base and moved the 91st to Minot to become the 91st Strategic Missile Wing to take over from the 455th Strategic Missile Wing, which inactivated concurrent with the move of the 91st. In 1971, the 91st moved to the forefront of Strategic Air Command's missile force by becoming the first to convert to Minuteman III ICBMs.
The wing was redesignated the 91st Missile Wing in 1991 following a command-wide restructuring program. It joined the newly-activated Air Combat Command later that year following the inactivation of SAC. On July 1, 1993, the wing's command again changed when the Air Force moved the wing to Air Force Space Command. During the summer of 1994, Air Force Space Command redesignated the wing as the 91st Missile Group, but returned it to wing status a year and half later. As part of the Air Force's move to an air and space force, the 91st was redesignated the 91st Space Wing in February 1996. The 91 SW became the 91st Missile Wing on July 1, 2008.
On December 1, 2009, the missile wing officially transferred from Air Force Space Command to Air Force Global Strike Command.
Since coming to Minot, the 91 MW has earned 15 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and a variety of Air Force combatant command, major command, and numbered Air Force awards.
(Current as of Nov. 18, 2021)