Air Force News

Contractors destroy first Minuteman III missile silo

Released: 15 Oct 1999

Air Force News Photo
DemTech owner Scott Gustafson and a DemTech employee pour and pack an ammonium nitrate-fuel oil mixture into a prepared hole at Minuteman III missile silo Alpha -04. The silo is approximately 10 miles north of Langdon, N.D. Gustafson and his explosives team used more than 750 pounds of the compound, along with dynamite to destroy the silo in order to comply with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Charles Morris)

Air Force News Photo
Mary Giltner, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy commander at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., takes seriously the task of destroying the Minuteman III missile silo. After a short countdown Oct. 6 by DemTech owner Scott Gustafson (right), the silo was destroyed. Giltner simultaneously pushed the two buttons on the handheld detonator setting off more than 750 pounds of explosives placed by Gustafson and his explosives team. The silo was destroyed to comply with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I. (Photo by Master Sgt. Bruce Conley)

Air Force News Photo
"Five, four, three, two, one . . . " More than 750 pounds of explosives were used to implode a Minuteman III missile silo near Langdon, N.D., approximately 110 miles northeast of Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. The silo was destroyed to comply with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I. Almost 150 more silos will be imploded in eastern North Dakota by November 2001. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Charles Morris)

by Staff Sgt. Scott Sturkol
319th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFPN) -- The first of 150 Minuteman III missile silos in eastern North Dakota was destroyed Oct. 6 in an implosion by contractors near Langdon, N.D., only a few miles from the United States-Canada border.

The effort is in accordance with Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I.

More than 100 spectators, including local media, saw a piece of North Dakota's military history turned into a pile of rubble.

"The missiles that were here were taken off alert in 1995," said Col. Mike Heinemeyer, 91st Space Wing vice commander at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. The 791st Maintenance Squadron and Grand Forks falls under the 91st. "This is the start of the final compliance of START I, where we implode the sites so they can never be used for their original purpose."

The implosion was the first for a Minuteman III silo in North Dakota, said Scott Rudolf, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron chief of missile engineering. The destruction of launch facility A-04 marked the start of a $12.1 million combined Air Force-Army Corps of Engineers project to implode 150 silos in eastern North Dakota. It is all part of the Oct. 1, 1995, Base Realignment and Closure Commission decision to realign Minuteman III missiles from the 321st Missile Group at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., to Malmstrom AFB, Mont.

"These missile sites are the only ones in North Dakota that are being imploded for the treaty," Heinemeyer said. "There are still 150 missile sites assigned to Minot that remain in service."

Capt. Rocky Krug, 319th Air Refueling Wing treaty compliance office chief, said START I is in force with Belarus, Kazikstan, Ukraine and Russia. He also discussed what the next step is after the implosion.

"The contractor will continue to work on the sight for a period of a couple weeks or more," Krug said. "Once the contractor gets the site to a point of where it is ready to go into an observation status, we have to send in a report that goes up our reporting structure. Once the report is sent up and all parties are notified, then the site goes into observation status for 90 days."

Veit Companies, headquartered in Rogers, Minn., was contracted for the entire project and DemTech of DuBois, Ill., is the explosives company imploding the sites. Scott Gustafson, owner of DemTech, said the process to get ready for an implosion like this one is a bit time consuming.

"First it takes three days to drill the holes where the explosives go," Gustafson said. "Then it takes three hours to load the explosives."

Gustafson, an explosives expert, said they used nearly 850 pounds of dynamite and ammonium nitrate and fuel oil mixture explosives for the implosion. Termed an "implosion," the explosives are embedded into the walls of the silo where on ignition they force the rubble inward, filling in the silo's hole.

Gustafson added he hopes to get a few more sites done before the winter sets in.

"I would like to see us get at least 15 more done before the snow flies," he said. (Courtesy of Air Mobility Command News Service)


* Minuteman III
* Air Mobility Command
* Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.
* Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.
* Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

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