Two launch control centers and six launch facilities in the 564th Missile Squadron took part in a Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman test here May 24 to 26.
Members of the 341st Maintenance Group inspect the launch closure door, following a simulated launch of a Minuteman III ICBM. (Photo by Roger Dey)
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MALMSTROM AFB, Mont. – Two launch control centers and six launch facilities in the 564th Missile Squadron took part in a Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman test here May 24 to 26.
The test, last conducted here in 2003, is the Department of Defense’s most complete analysis of the intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system in a deployed environment. SELM working groups began meeting in early April to prepare for the test.
Missile combat crews from the 341st Operations Group installed test coded launch and enable panels at Quebec and Romeo launch control centers. Next, maintenance teams then configured six launch facilities with SELM test codes. The coded units were then isolated from the remainder of the squadron.
Despite configuring for a “simulated” launch, nuclear surety is never far from anyone’s mind.
“During SELM, literally hundreds of hours are dedicated to ensuring zero chance of any type of nuclear mishap,” said Peter Woelkers, 341st Space Wing weapons safety manager. “From the earliest stages of planning, through the implementation of the test, and ending with the reconfiguration of sorties back to alert status, nuclear safety is the top priority of everyone involved. Nothing is assumed or left to chance.”
Following isolation, the next series of tests began. The airborne test was conducted May 24, and the ground test was accomplished May 26.
Historically, Malmstrom’s tests have been tremendously successful.
Airborne Day began when the SELM launch control centers began test preparations and a missile combat crew from the 564th MS initiated test commands from the Airborne Launch Control System.
The ALCS aircraft carries a large array of command and control systems allowing for wartime communication. Numerous tests were conducted, including the jettisoning of the launcher closure door at R-28. Technical Sgt. Chris Sanchez, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron, was on-hand for the event.
“I was impressed by how professional and skilled everyone was,” Sergeant Sanchez said. “This opportunity allowed me to see the result of all the hard work maintainers go through every day. Our jobs are vital to the mission of deterrence, and in the unfortunate event that our sorties were ever called upon, they would complete their mission to perfection.”
Ground Day preparations began May 25. Three sorties were tested, to include ordinance discharge at Q-15 launch facility. Ground day ended with the reconfiguration of Romeo and Quebec launch control centers back to alert status.