Minuteman III ICBM Destroyed During Test Launch

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Winston, Aug 5, 2018.

  1. Aug 5, 2018 #1

    Winston

    Winston

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    Lorenzo von Matterhorn

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    Minuteman III ICBM Destroyed During Test Launch
    1 Aug 2018

    https://www.military.com/daily-news...rmed-icbm-test-gone-wrong-stratcom-chief.html

    There are typically four Minuteman III test launches per year. This failure, one on 2011 and one in 2009 means 3 over 9.5 years. 3/(4/yr * 9.5yr) = 0.079 = 7.9% failure rate. For rocketry, that really sucks. 450 deployed missiles x 0.079 = 35.5 launch failures during an all-out nuclear war. Damned lucky we have so many! :)
     
  2. Aug 5, 2018 #2

    Speaknoevil

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    Wow, that is bad. Most companies would go out of business quickly if they had an 8% failure rate on their products.

    And I guess in a nuclear war, the estimated 35 failures will result in loss of life, but in this case, "friendly fire" has a whole new meaning!
     
  3. Aug 5, 2018 #3

    rharshberger

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    And how old are the Minuteman III missles, iirc they are beyond their design life and we all know how APCP motors are when they get old. Yes they have had some upgrades over the years, but they are in need of replacement.
     
  4. Aug 5, 2018 #4

    BigRiJoe

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    Just remember there are no range safety options in those Minutemen missiles during operational use. As far as the warhead goes it is not fused until very late in the reentry sequence. So, a damaged warhead from a launch accident might leak radioactivity, but it probable wouldn't be noticed in an all-out nuclear exchange
     
  5. Aug 5, 2018 #5

    AlphaSigOU

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    I used to work at the Huntsville (Alabama) Remote Operations Center (ROC) tracking and scoring Minuteman III 'Glory Trip' test launches from Vandenberg AFB to Kwajalein and in a few cases all the way to the broad - and extremely deep - ocean areas off the coast of Guam. Without getting into the specific details of a specific mission or missions (which are classified) this is what is done for a Glory Trip (or 'GT') mission:

    The missile wing assigned to the test (the 90th at F. E. Warren, the 91st at Minot and the 341st at Malmstrom) selects an active Minuteman III missile at random from the fields where it stands alert. The missile is extracted from the LF (launch facility) and its warhead removed. Both are transported back to the base. The missile is then transported to Vandenberg AFB, where a range safety destruct package is installed on the missile (active missiles loaded with nukes do not have them) and special reentry vehicles (RVs) with instrumentation replace the nuke. (Minuteman IIIs can carry up to three RVs; they generally carry only one live nuke on alert because of the START treaty. On occasion, test launches do carry the full three RV load.) Of course, countermeasures such as decoys (penetration aids, or 'pen-aids') are also tested - and are highly classified.

    Launch and maintenance crews from the missile wing goes on TDY to Vandenberg to oversee and participate in the GT mission, even though the instrumented missile is under the control of the 576th Flight Test Squadron (576 FLTS). On mission day, a rather elaborate countdown is performed. Some launches are done in the launch control facility (LCF) like the missiles on alert underground or by using the Airborne Launch Control Center (ALCC) onboard the E-6B Mercury command and control aircraft. Regardless of which method is used, within 30 seconds of turning the launch keys the missile is launched from the LF at Vandenberg. Here's a brief article on the airborne launch system: http://www.afgsc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1173936/glory-trip-220-an-aircrews-perspective/

    When launched towards Kwajalein, the powerful space-tracking radars pick up the upper stages of the missile at the peak of its flight and continue to track it until impact. It takes about 25 to 28 minutes before the RV and the 'bus' that carries it impacts on an uninhabited island on the atoll, into an array of hydrophones offshore or onto the broad ocean areas offshore from the atoll, where ocean depths exceed 10,000 feet. (Can't let Russian or Chinese 'fishing' trawlers pick up the pieces...)

    Below is a picture of a 3-warhead test reentering over Kwajalein. The brighter, fourth trail is the remains of the 'bus' as it disintegrates in the atmosphere. Spectacular view nut also sobering at the same time; if this was a live shot, that's the last thing anyone would see before being vaporized.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Aug 5, 2018 #6

    AlphaSigOU

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    Reentry over Kwaj happens in the dark of night; the long exposures make it look like twilight. The lights in the background are of Ebeye Island.
     
  7. Aug 6, 2018 #7

    RocketT.Coyote

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  8. Aug 6, 2018 #8

    Winston

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    Claimed Circular Error Probable (CEP - miss distance):

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Weapons/Mmiii.html

    Mk-12 RV: 900 ft (280 m)
    Mk-12a RV: 730 ft (220 m); to be reduced to 360 ft (110 m)


    Check this video out starting at 5:59. This looks considerably less than that although CEP is related to ODDS, so just lucky?:

     
  9. Aug 6, 2018 #9

    Winston

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    The warheads won't arm, but the recovery of possibly intact warheads and decontamination from warheads not intact would be an issue although after an all-out nuclear war, that would be the least of problems.

    The radar is picking up a line of thundershowers which extends from a point 9 miles NNE of Secaucus, New Jersey, along a line and 6 miles either side of the line to a point 5 miles SSW of Fond Du Lac.

    However, the radar is also picking up a squadron of Russian ICBMs... so I wouldn't sweat the thundershowers.


    George Carlin - the Hippy Dippy Weatherman
     
  10. Aug 6, 2018 #10

    Winston

    Winston

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    NICE photo! Got any more? Below is one from "the good old days" using a younger missile (MX) we negotiated away, one with more "naughty bits" per missile. The wobbly trails makes me think "maneuverable reentry vehicle (abbreviated MARV or MaRV)," but we're not supposed to have those.

    A time exposure of eight Peacekeeper (LGM-118A) intercontinental ballistic missile reentry vehicles passing through clouds while approaching an open-ocean impact zone during a flight test. December 20, 1983.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Aug 6, 2018 #11

    Winston

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    Another one, not labelled, but I assume it's an MX. VERY interesting trails. I assume that the really squirrely one is not the bus - when RVs (or MaRVs) go wrong?

    LGM-118 Peacekeeper - "Up to 10 Avco Mk21 re-entry vehicles each carrying a 300 kt W87-0 warhead or a 475 kt W87-1/W88 warhead; or 12 Avco Mk12A re-entry vehicles each carrying a 335–350 kt W78 warhead plus decoys"

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Aug 8, 2018 #12

    BigRiJoe

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    On a ground burst, what is the impact velocity of the warhead?
     
  13. Aug 9, 2018 #13

    Andrew_ASC

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    I don’t think he’s allowed to say. Lol.
     
  14. Aug 9, 2018 #14

    AlphaSigOU

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    That's classified. I'm not at liberty to discuss.
     
  15. Aug 10, 2018 #15

    Winston

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    It could probably be determined from a frame by frame analysis of the various RV videos found on YouTube, but I'm not that curious about it.
     
  16. Aug 11, 2018 #16

    burkefj

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    First e-9s and now Minuteman 3s, what will be next
     
  17. Aug 11, 2018 #17

    Reinhard

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    It depends, a lot. The ballistic coefficient of the RV and the reentry angle determine how far the RV decelerates before impact. Apparently, the ballistic coefficient of RVs is in the neighborhood of 1500 lb/ft^2 [1] which can result in impact velocities from about Mach 1.5 to Mach 13 [2].

    [2] Shows lots of diagrams, that illustrate why space capsules look very different from RVs (wide, with a low ballistic coefficient) and fly different reentry trajectories. Astronauts generally disapprove of 100g+ loads during reentry.

    Reinhard

    [1] http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a231552.pdf
    [2] https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_memoranda/2008/RM3475.pdf
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  18. Aug 11, 2018 #18

    sooner.boomer

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    An English warhead or an African warhead?
     
  19. Aug 11, 2018 #19

    rharshberger

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    Laden or Unladen....
     

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