HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The Air Force will begin its season of full-scale detonation operations – those involving more than 10,000 pounds of net explosive weight – at the Air Force’s test and training field today. Utah (UTTR). These detonations are expected to continue until September 14.
Detonations will occur on Mondays and Tuesdays, with Wednesday as the backup day each week. Detonations are to destroy rocket motors and solid propellant from retired and expired ballistic missiles.
“Detonation is the best environmental method to take out those big rocket motors and thrusters,” said Michelle Cottle, head of the environmental branch of the 75th Civil Engineering Group. Since 2012, more than 300 rocket motors have been destroyed at UTTR, the only licensed location in the United States where this type of work can be done.
Before each large detonation at UTTR, the Air Force takes atmospheric readings to verify wind speed, direction, and other factors, and enters the data into a solid prediction model to determine if conditions are acceptable for the detonation. If the model predicts that the noise will be louder than permitted levels at locations along the Wasatch Front, the detonations are delayed.
“We are doing everything we can to do this job without harming our neighbors and the environment,” Cottle said. This includes the placement of sound monitors along the Wasatch front.
“We are always learning and with technological improvements we continue to update and improve our sound monitoring,” she said. “It is still the safest and most efficient way to get rid of these engines. “