HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., stood up Detachment 3 at Hill Air Force Base Oct. 1 to provide operational test and support for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) and other related Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) test activities, including the ICBM fuze modernization and Mk21A reentry vehicle.
On Oct. 22, a virtual ceremony to commemorate the activation was presided over by AFOTEC Commander Maj. Gen. Jim Sears and Lt. Col. Jeremy Russell assumed command of Detachment 3.
The activation of Detachment 3 serves as the Center’s fifth active detachment, whose mission is to test and evaluate strategic nuclear systems in operationally realistic environments to ensure delivery of effective and suitable combat capabilities.
Detachment 3 has also integrated with their Developmental Test and Evaluation (DT&E) counterparts in a collaborative effort, to form the GBSD Combined Test Force (CTF), delivering warfighting capabilities quickly and efficiently within the acquisition process.
This is accomplished through combined testing and certification activities, allowing the CTF to provide continuous feedback to the program office to inform and influence decisions as early as possible, and in-turn, preventing duplication of effort among contractor, developmental and operational test events.
GBSD is the planned replacement for the aging Minuteman III ICBM platform and Detachment 3 will work in conjunction with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s GBSD and ICBM Systems Directorates also located at Hill.
“The Air Force has been in the ICBM business since the 1950s and AFOTEC was deeply involved. We are responsible for two-thirds of the nation’s nuclear triad and GBSD is the long-awaited replacement for that current ground-based system,” Sears said during his speech at the detachment activation ceremony.
“Do not mistake this straight-forwardness of that statement, to insinuate a simple missile replacement or operational test as usual. Detachment 3 will be responsible for conducting integrated tests for all things GBSD, from the missile itself to what it takes to get that missile out of the ground, and getting the warhead back to the target,” Sears said. “I want to thank the Air Force Test Center, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Global Strike Command for their partnership in the Combined Test Force.”
While GBSD supporting systems for it are in early stages of the acquisition process, proper development is crucial for effectiveness and efficiency in this new platform. The activation will bring with it critical personnel for GBSD and ICBM development and testing.
AFOTEC, is a direct reporting unit under Headquarters, United States Air Force. It is the Air Force independent test agency responsible for testing, under operationally realistic conditions, new systems being developed for Air Force and multi-service use.