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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Arnold conducts Minuteman motor test

by Joel Fortner
Arnold Engineering Development Center Public Affairs

2/12/2007 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFNEWS) -- Arnold Engineering Development Center workers here successfully completed the first of eight scheduled Minuteman motor tests this year in late January.

The initial test took place in the J-6 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility, where approximately $2.1 million worth of Minuteman testing will occur.

The heavy test load is significant in terms of acquiring reliable data and for gauging the reliability of the motors, especially since Minuteman test flights are limited.

"We only get to launch three times a year out of Vandenberg (AFB, Calif.) to test the actual viability in flight test so the more tests we have at AEDC will better our predictability and will better the precision of our analysis," said Col. Robert Shofner, commander of the 526th Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Wing at Hill AFB, Utah.

Colonel Shofner observed the first firing from the J-6 control room during his first visit to the center.

"It went like clockwork, which is what we hope for in ICBMs," he said. "It was very predictable, which is attributed to the way they do business at AEDC."

Since active Minuteman missile boosters are presently being replaced, this test helps validate new production replacement program boosters in the field today, the colonel said.

"We need to know, as those come off the line, that they are reliable," Colonel Shofner said. "This test tells us that."

He added the test also helps determine the "long-term health" of the booster and nozzle.

The information allows the colonel to tell the warfighting customer the weapon system will work if needed. In this case, he's sending that message to Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command. USSTRATCOM manages the nation's ballistic nuclear fleet.

"General Cartwright has to know that if the president says, 'Let's use this weapon system,' that it's going to go," Colonel Shofner said.

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