The United States’ airspace defense military is in the process of moving its communications equipment back to its iconic nuclear Cold War-era bunker which was abandoned nearly a decade ago.
Nearly 10 years ago, the North American Aerospace Defense Command operations center moved to nearby Peterson Air Force Base, which is home to the U.S. Northern Command created after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is reported to be 2,000 feet below the granite rocks and made up of 15 three-story buildings protected from nuclear blasts and seismic movement by a system of 1,000 giant springs.
Last week, the Pentagon announced that a $700 million, 10 year contract was awarded to Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command.
The contract calls for Raytheon to deliver ‘sustainment’ services to help the military perform ‘accurate, timely and unambiguous warning and attack assessment of air, missile and space threats’ at the Cheyenne and Petersen bases.
The complex is designed to withstand a direct hit by a 30 megaton nuclear explosion and has 25-ton blast doors surrounding the complex.
Raytheon’s contract will also involve unspecified work at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
The Cheyenne Mountain bunker in Colorado Springs is where ‘Stargate SG-1’ science fiction TV series was filmed. It was built in 1965 to resist a Soviet nuclear attack, and was a key center for the United States Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which scanned Canadian and US airspace via a worldwide system of missiles.
North American Aerospace Defense Command said ‘that at the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s, the idea of a hardened command and control center was conceptualized as a defense against long-range Soviet bombers. The Army Corps of Engineers supervised the excavation of Cheyenne Mountain and the construction of an operational center within the granite mountain. The Cheyenne Mountain facility became fully operational as the NORAD Combat Operations Center on Feb. 6, 1967.’
Daily Mail reported that Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that ‘because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain’s built, it’s EMP-hardened.’
‘And so, there’s a lot of movement to put capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there,’ Gortney told reporters.
‘My primary concern was… are we going to have the space inside the mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I’m not at liberty to discuss who’s moving in there,’ he said.
The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack. From inside the massive complex, airmen were poised to send warnings that could trigger the launch of nuclear missiles.
But in 2006, officials decided to move the headquarters of NORAD and US Northern Command from Cheyenne to Petersen Air Force base in Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne bunker was designated as an alternative command center if needed.
Photos courtesy of Daily Mail