Team Minot validates deterrent capability
By Capt. Tyler Schochenmaier and 1st Lt. Nathan Lebens, 741st Missile Squadron
/ Published October 17, 2016
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 741st Missile Squadron recently performed a successful simulated launch of six Minuteman III Missiles.
Air Force Global Strike Command typically conducts Simulated Electronic Launch – Minuteman tests twice a year to evaluate the readiness of the deployed intercontinental ballistic missile force.
“The basic objective of SELM is to assess reliability of the Minuteman III weapon system, to include the Airborne Launch Control System in its deployed environment,” said Lt. Col. Mike Harrison, 741st MS director of operations and SELM test support manager.
Everything from day-to-day operations to the issuance of the first stage ignition signal is assessed by SELM. The simulated launches test the ICBMs in their deployed locations and the operational missile fields without actually launching missiles.
Operational Test Launches, or Glory Trips, feature actual test missile launches conducted at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Preparation for the simulated test launch begins by removing two launch control centers and six missiles from their day-to-day alert mission. At the launch control centers, ICBM operation crews remove operational panels and replace them with test panels. Maintainers physically isolate the launch control centers and launch facilities that contain the missiles from the rest of the squadron, creating an isolated SELM, also known as a mini-squadron.
This configuration prevents commands initiated by the test launch control centers from reaching any operational squadron’s facility. Additionally, maintainers install mechanical barriers, test cabling and other safety equipment to ensure the missile launch can be adequately simulated. These robust safety precautions allow for testing operational procedures while using real commands.
Wing personnel from all disciplines go through intense training, planning and preparation in order to posture for SELM. Maintenance personnel plan and coordinate the logistics required to prepare for the tests execution and spend over 1,500 man-hours performing pre- and post-maintenance actions required. Missile combat crew members also spend countless hours in the weapons system trainer simulating and reviewing test procedures. However, none of that work can be accomplished without the support of the 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron.
“SELM is a great opportunity for our defenders, maintainers and operators to work together for a common objective,” said Master Sgt. Joshua English, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron superintendent of intelligence and planning.
The test was completed in two full days and provided Team Minot with a unique aspect of the base’s deterrence mission.