SLEM door

The US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) conducted the Giant Pace 15-1M Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman (SELM) test near Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB), Montana, US.

The test represents the second part of a complete weapon’s system evaluation, which saw an unarmed Minuteman III missile launched from Vandenberg AFB, California, splashing down in a pre-established test area in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam.

Two launch control centres (LCC) were involved in the trial, as were six launch facilities (LFs) including the K-09, which slid open its 100t launcher closure door into a 12ft-high sand berm, signalling the end of the test.

"Two launch control centres (LCC) were involved in the trial, as were six launch facilities (LFs)."

The SELM testing is held every two years. It enables missile wings throughout AFGSC to evaluate the reliability of the LGM-30 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, stopping just before first-stage ignition.

341st Missile Wing commander colonel Tom Wilcox said: "This displays to our allies and potential adversaries that the Minuteman system is still viable and provides awesome deterrence for the nation every day."

Combined with Minuteman missile launches from Vandenberg AFB, the data gathered from SELM tests provides invaluable information to leaders throughout the command.

The LCCs and LFs involved in Malmstrom’s SELM were detached from the rest of the squadron as a precautionary measure.

490th Missile Squadron operations assistant director lieutenant colonel Scott Fleming said: "Facilities tested during the SELM are electrically isolated from the operational squadron with a special configuration that accounts for safely testing in the operational missile field."

The LGM-30 Minuteman III is built by Boeing. It is a ground-based, long-range, solid-fuel, three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile designed to carry single or multiple nuclear warheads.

The missile forms one component of a nuclear triad that is complemented by the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile, and by nuclear weapons carried by a long-range strategic bomber aircraft.

Image: A 100t launcher closure door sits after being propelled open from a missile launch facility and slamming into a 12ft-high berm during a SLEM test near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force / Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt.