The US Air Force’s (USAF) missile wings, assigned under 20th AF, have started executing a change in the procedure for nuclear code change operations.

As part of the effort, each wing under the 20th Air Force will switch the area of responsibility (AOR) to the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Cryptography Upgrade (ICU)-II programme.

Conducted annually, the code change procedure for each wing usually takes around three weeks to complete.

It involves missileers, maintainers or security forces covering long distances and working for hours to change codes necessary for supporting on-site ICBM launches for a particular wing.

With the latest efforts, the long manual process will be changed to one that can be executed remotely from the launch control capsule by a missileer team.

20th AF commander major general Michael Lutton said: “This innovation will improve the quality of life of our airmen while saving [the USAF] millions of dollars.”

The missile squadron’s reconfiguration process to ICU II involves three phases, beginning with the initial implementation phase that includes associated personnel to understand the ICU II process.

It is followed by the second phase, which prepares the site to undertake a remote code change and includes the movement of resources or personnel.

The final phase marks the conclusion of all the previous efforts of remote code change.

90th Operations Support Squadron weapons and tactics instructor captain Dustin Maglinti said: “With its completion, it reduces the manpower required for code change, maintenance and security forces personnel, lessens the need for moving code components from base to the missile field and now we have this capability where we can do all of this remotely.”

The ICU II is expected to have a positive effect on airmen of security forces/maintenance groups as it will free them from the duties of maintaining LGM-30G Minuteman III.