Warren's Minuteman III missiles reach milestone

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Bill Bloodhart
  • 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron
On Mar. 29, missile maintenance technicians from the 90th Maintenance Group installed a Propulsion System Rocket Engine at Launch Facility Golf-03. This task marked a milestone for the 90th Missile Wing as it was the 150th and final installation of an upgraded PSRE on F. E. Warren's Minuteman III ICBM fleet.

The PSRE is part of what is known as the Post-Boost Control System of the Minuteman III. It is the fourth stage of the missile and it provides flight thrust and directional maneuver in low-Earth orbit to ensure accurate positioning for weapon jettison. The PSRE is attached to, and controlled by the Missile Guidance Set. The new PSRE is part of Minuteman III Life Extension Program. The PSRE LEP is not a new rocket engine, but rather a refurbishment of the original. These refurbishments are completed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Upgraded components in these PSREs are part of an ongoing effort to prolong the life of the Minuteman III through 2030. The multi-million PSRE LEP program began in 2000 and the first units were fielded begining in 2005.

F. E. Warren's final upgraded PSRE was installed by the team of Staff Sgt. Carlos Perez, Senior Airman Jessica Kulla, Senior Airman Gregory Smith, Senior Airman Wayne Watts and Airman 1st Class William Killinger, all with the 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron.

Though this dispatch would mark the end of a monumental, seven year effort, the day started just like every other day in the missile maintenance business. The team arrived to the shop at 5 a.m. and began the process of preparing for the day's maintenance. They verified the serviceability of 1,063 tools and pieces of specialized equipment and secured it all in a five-ton truck prepared by the 90th Maintenance Operations Squadron's Vehicle and Equipment Section. They checked the road and weather conditions along their route, completed their drivers risk assessments, verified they had the most current and latest technical data changes and received a detailed pre-dispatch briefing from their NCO-in-charge. The team then loaded the PSRE into their special purpose semi-trailer, known as a payload transporter, and began the 115 mile drive to G-03.

Once they arrived, a team comprised of maintainers, security forces members and the missile combat crew ran through a series of checklists, procedures and verifications to process the maintenance team onto the launch facility so the day's work could begin. After the necessary access requirements were met, Perez, Kulla and Smith opened the site and descended below ground to begin the day's tasks. At the same time, Watts and Killinger positioned and stabilized the payload transporter over the top of the launcher. Once the trailer was set in position, they attached a Missile Guidance Set to the PSRE, opened the 110 ton launcher closure door and lowered the guidance set and PSRE through the floor of the payload transporter. Perez, Kulla, and Smith received the guidance set and PSRE in the silo below and mounted them atop the missile. After completing several additional tests and inspections, Perez' team secured the launch facility and began the drive back to F. E. Warren.

It was a fairly quick day for Perez and his team. Thirteen hours after arriving for work, they had closed out a multi-million dollar program and were on their way home. It was just another day's work in the world of missile maintenance.

"The installation team did an outstanding job; I couldn't be prouder of their hard work and dedication to this massive feat," said Col. Don Adams, 90th MXG commander. "This milestone not only enhances Warren's ICBM fleet, but also continues to reinforce that our nuclear enterprise has the most powerful weapons in our nation's arsenal."

To view a picture slide show of the upgrade, click here.