HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force detonated two first stage Trident I ballistic missile rocket motors Sept. 8 at the Utah Test and Training Range at 11:39 a.m. and 1:12 p.m.
The Trident is a three-stage, solid propellant missile used by the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Ballistic Missile program. Under the START treaties, the United States is reducing the number of ballistic missiles in its inventory. Detonation is the best environmental method for disposing of the rocket motors and propellant. The warhead or payload portion of the missile is not destroyed at the UTTR and no nuclear materials are involved in the detonation.
“To date we have detonated more than a million pounds of missile motor propellant,” said Glenn Palmer, Hill AFB’s air quality program manager. “The UTTR has played a key role in disposing of the nation’s missile motor inventory for more than 20 years and is the only location in the United States capable of destroying these missile motors.”
Before each detonation, the Air Force takes atmospheric readings to check wind speed, direction and other factors that are entered into a sound model to determine if conditions are acceptable for a large detonation.
“Because of the variability of upper atmospheric weather conditions this time of year, the sound model may not accurately predict sound levels along the Wasatch Front,” Palmer said.
The Air Force typically performs detonations at the UTTR two to three times a week between April and October each year.