Launch Facility (Missile Silo) Delta-09
I never thought that they would ever be used. The fact that they were there was enough. That was enough deterrent for anyone. I don’t know why anyone would want to put themselves in a position to antagonize the United States because the might that we have in our arsenal is pretty impressive. – Ken Bush, Flight Security Controller, 44th Missile Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base
There is no better place to witness the Minuteman’s role in the Cold War then at Launch Facility Delta-09. From 1963 until 1991 Delta-09 contained a fully operational Minuteman Missile. The Delta-09 silo was one of 150 spread across western South Dakota. In total there were 1,000 Minuteman’s deployed at the 1960's into the early 1990's. These nuclear sentinels waited silent and deadly to perform their destructive duty at a moment’s notice.
The Minuteman – Technological Wonder
In the early 1970's Minuteman II’s replaced the Minuteman IB in the 44th Missile Wing across western South Dakota. The missile housed in the Delta-09 Launch Facility today is a replica of the Minuteman II missile. The Minuteman II was considered a technological wonder at the time of its deployment. Upgrades had been made in order to improve precision and range of America’s existing ICBM force. The Minuteman II had a range of up to 7,500 miles, effectively placing it within reach of almost anywhere on earth. It had the capability to strike within 900 yards of its intended target.
The Minuteman – Technological Terror
A Minuteman II warhead's 1.2 megaton explosion would release an unprecedented amount of energy. Any structures at or near ground zero are immediately vaporized. The blast fireball is a mile in width. Those witnessing such an explosive force see a blinding light many times brighter then the noon day sun. A tornado like vortex with wind speeds of over 150 mph engulfs the surrounding area for miles. The residual effects of radiation contaminate not only the blast area, but also send radioactive particles swirling into the atmosphere. The destructive effects of a Minuteman’s warhead are so great that the United States vowed to only use these weapons if all other policy measures failed.