ICBM Mishap Withheld

In May 2014, in the midst of a Pentagon review of the nuclear enterprise, the Air Force experienced a mishap that resulted in $1.8 million in damage to an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Air Force announced Jan. 22. The Minuteman III ICBM, assigned to the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., “became non-operational during a diagnostic test,” and the accident happened when maintenance personnel were troubleshooting the problem, according to the press release. No one was injured, and the mishap did not create a public safety hazard, the Air Force said. An investigation found that the maintenance team chief was properly trained but “mistakenly performed an action not directed by the technical guidance.” He and the two airmen on his team were decertified, but returned to duty after being retrained and recertified. Despite the timing of the incident, the Air Force kept the details from Pentagon investigators, according to the Associated Press. In November 2014, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a plan to overhaul the nuclear enterprise, based on the results of external and internal reviews. (See also: Nuke Enterprise Better Off After Scrutiny and Nuclear Force Improvements from the April 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)