GREAT FALLS — Crews finished eliminating the last of the deactivated intercontinental ballistic missile silos operated by Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.
Under a nuclear arms-reduction treaty with Russia, the U.S. was required to eliminate 103 deactivated missile silos, including the 50 at Malmstrom, by February 2018. The demolition of the 50 fulfills almost half of the treaty’s requirements, and 50 launch facilities already were eliminated at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.
The final 10 Malmstrom silos were closed up this past week. A 60-day observation period will allow Russia to verify that they were destroyed.
The silos, located in Choteau, Pondera, Teton and Toole counties, had been under the 564th Missile Squadron, which was deactivated in 2008.
The last silo to be eliminated was Launch Facility T-49, about 25 miles west of Conrad, the base said. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, was among those on hand to watch the process.
To make the launch site unusable, heavy machines buried the 110-ton launcher closure door and filled the launch tube with dirt and gravel, the base said.
The move closed a yearlong effort to bring the U.S. a step closer to complying with the treaty with Russia, Wilcox said in a statement.
All that remains is for concrete caps to be poured over the silos, said Rick Bialczak, 341st treaty compliance office chief.
Malmstrom still oversees 150 missiles as part of the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile force. The treaty limits deployed launchers to 700 across ballistic missile fields, submarines and bomber aircraft.