Digging A Trench To Bury The HICS Cable
The Hardened Intersite Cable System is crucial in providing the Missile Alert Facility (Launch Control Center) the ability to communicate with and monitor the status of the Minuteman missiles in their respective Launch Facilities. The HICS cable provides the means for the two Launch Control officers with the ability to monitor and assess each of the 10 missiles they are responsible for within their MAF. The computer equipment in each Launch Facility is continually assessing the missile, guidance and electrical systems, and other features, making sure that each missile is at its fully operational status.
Of equal importance, the HICS cable also provides the Launch Control Center the ability to send the command to launch the missile.
One of the key features of the HICS cable is that it was designed with a safety feature that allows the Air Force to monitor the integrity of the entire cable system. Each HICS cable is pneumatically pressurized with air, and this pressure is constantly monitored to assure that there are no significant pressure losses along the cable system between the Launch Control Centers and the Launch Facilities. At any time there is a loss of 1 pound per square inch of pressure or more, an alert is generated.
If any unauthorized individuals were to attempt to gain access to an HICS cable, the resulting loss in pressure from the cable would immediately alert the Launch Control Center of such an action. The continual monitoring of the Hardened Intersite Cable System also will alert the Air Force to any structural issues with the cable system, given that wear and tear on this system is a reality they must also be constantly aware of.
At Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, the task force assigned to the maintenance of the HICS cable system is maintained by the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron Section. The chief of this department is responsible for two subsections, cables affairs and HICS maintenance. The missiles at Malmstrom AFB cover a total of 9 counties, and currently have 2,400 miles of active HICS cable to attend to.
In total, the missile field at Malmstrom covers over 13,800 square miles.
The cable affairs subsection maintains and manages HICS Right-Of-Way, records for more than 2000 land owners, tenants' tract files and database. This section also monitors and tracks all activities affecting Right Of Way coordinating with more than 650 public and private utilities.
The cable affairs section stay focused on their primary goal of prevention, primarily by keeping in contact with land owners or developers. They help them plot where the HICS cables are, and where to dig around them. There is a regional agency, "One Call, 811" whose primary purpose is to locate the HICS cables, just like any other buried utility.
The HICS Maintenance section oversees the physical maintenance of the cable pneumatic pressurization and monitoring system, 2,100 miles of active cable sheath and 7,200 splice cases buried across the 13,800 square mile missile complex.
At Malmstrom Air Force Base 2,100 miles of HICS cable cross nine counties, eight major river systems and six mountain ranges throughout central Montana, for the purpose of providing information technology and resources necessary to operate and maintain command and control for the 150 Minuteman III missiles deployed with the 341st Strategic Missile Squadron.
At Minot Air Force Base in Minot, North Dakota they maintain a HICS network that consists of 1,535 miles of HICS cable and 47 cable air dryers, all of which encompasses 8,500 square miles of its missile complex.
The schematic above gives one a perspective of the HICS cable system layout and the interconnections each of the Missile Alert Facilities and Launch Facilities have with each other. This layout is what makes it possible for the Launch Control Centers to establish and consistently maintain command and control over the Minuteman missiles in their individual Launch Facilities.