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Strengthening our nuclear deterrence: Part 1

  • Published
  • By Scott Wakefield
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to nuclear deterrence. Most people think about the vast number of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles we have secured in silos around the country. Other’s may think about the various options we have in our bomber and submarine delivery systems. However, at Vandenberg Space Force Base, the 377th Test and Evaluation Group plays an important role in nuclear deterrence by continually testing our ICBM capabilities for all the world to see.

Specifically, the 377th Flight Test Missile Maintenance Squadron will receive an ICBM from the field that has had all the nuclear material replaced by telemetry equipment. Within the 377 FTMMXS, their Munitions Flight will initially receive the missile and will test all the components of the reentry vehicle to verify that all the nuclear material has been removed.

“The telemetry equipment that has been installed will basically allow instruments to record data of what is happening with the missile once it is launched,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandyn Nace, Special Weapons Maintenance Trainer.

According to Nace, another of their primary duties is to work on the top part of the missile, which is the reentry system. They use their technical orders to make sure they are following all the necessary steps to ensure the missile separates into its different stages.

One way they do this is to make sure the explosives in the missile detonate as they are supposed to so the reentry vehicle puts the simulated warhead on target.

“If one thing is off, it is the difference between the mission going successfully and the missile needing to be destroyed before reaching its target,” said Nace.

One way the munitions team ensures mission success is making sure that every screw is put back in its precise place according to the TOs.

Nace said, “The consistency makes for a missile that will hit its target anywhere in the world, exactly where we want it to.”

The munitions flight handles more than making sure the missile is prepped for launch, they also handle all the munitions responsibilities for Vandenberg to include security forces, explosive ordinance disposal, and Combat Arms Training and Maintenance.