MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
Members of the 705th Munitions Squadron from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, worked together on the Nuclear Weapon System Evaluation Program at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah March 18-31, 2017.
The purpose of the WSEP, also known as Combat Sledgehammer, is to accurately assess the effectiveness and suitability of Air Force Global Strike Command’s nuclear-capable weapon systems.
The WSEP program occurs two to three times a year. Members of the 705th MUNS and the 49th TES worked together to evaluate operational readiness of nuclear-capable weapon systems in AFGSC’s arsenal. Throughout the 12-day process, the Airmen were responsible for all scheduled and unscheduled missile maintenance.
“We do all we can to ensure the weapons system is reliable and that everything works as planned,” said Tech. Sgt. Dustin Deaton, 705th MUNS missile maintenance bay chief. “We do everything from engine inspections and fueling to missile testing.”
Deaton described how members with the 49 TES assisted his unit.
“Once the missiles were loaded onto the aircraft, the 49 TES ran an interface test on the aircraft,” Deaton said. “We troubleshot and fixed any issues they might have found. When those interface tests passed and everything was good, we deemed those missiles ready for launch.”
He also explained other tasks the unit accomplished while at the proving ground.
“When we were at the site, we waited for the missile to launch and impact its target,” Deaton said. “Then we went out in a work-recovery team while ensuring not to leave any classified material on the test range.”
Deaton described his feeling watching the missiles launch successfully.
“I feel proud when I’m on the test range watching the missile impact its zone after its three-hour flight,” Deaton said. “Knowing we’ve worked on these missiles throughout our entire careers and seeing them launch successfully gives me a sense of satisfaction.”
Likewise, Tech. Sgt. Douglas Hull, 705th MUNS missile maintenance bay chief, feels gratitude when watching the missile systems have an effective launch.
“It’s always nice to see the fruits of our labor,” Hull said. “Nothing makes me more proud than hearing the missile system we work on had a successful test launch. It means every Airman helped get the missiles fully mission capable.”