WASHINGTON — The Air Force's vast fields of underground nuclear missile silos are rarely disturbed by more than the occasional wandering cow or floating spy balloon. But the service is now asking Congress to help with another unexpected danger: towering wind turbines, which are growing in number and size and are edging closer to the sites each year.
The silos share space on vast private farmlands with the turbines. Whereas the nuclear launch sites are almost undetectable — just small, rectangular plots of land marked only by antennae, a chain-link fence and a flat 110,000-ton (100,000-metric ton) concrete silo blast door — the turbines are hundreds of feet high, with long, sweeping blades that have parts so large and long they dwarf the 18-wheeler flatbed trucks that transport them to new sites.
As nearby populations have grown, so have energy needs, and so have the number and size of the turbines. It's a boon for farmers and landowners, who can lease space on their lands to support both the military needs and wind power companies.
But the growth is making it dangerous for military helicopter crews. When an alarm triggers at a site, the UH-1 Huey crews fly in low and fast, often with security teams on board.
“When you think about a wind turbine, and even fields of wind turbines, they'll stretch for miles,” said Staff Sgt. Chase Rose, a UH-1 Huey flight engineer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. “They're…