The Air Force’s LGM-35A Sentinel (formerly Ground Based Strategic Deterrent or GBSD) weapon system is a complete modernization of the land-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad. This program stands as a foundational change in Operational Test early involvement. AFOTEC involvement started in 2014, years before the historical OT involvement timeframe. Operational testers have reviewed numerous Preliminary Designs. The most impactful design review recommendation was in the design of the new Sentinel Missile emplacement truck and trailer. The contractor design was far too large for the rural environment the weapon system was to be fielded. Feedback from operational testers that have firsthand experience driving large vehicles in that environment, identified that the truck would not make the tight turns or make it through small bridges. The early operational input steered the contractor to completely redesigned the truck and trailer before it was ever built.
Mk-21A Reentry Vehicle (RV)
The new Reentry Vehicle (RV) replaces Mk12A & will be used on the Sentinel. The program is being run in conjunction with W87-1. AFOTEC Detachment 3 is participating in the first Pathfinder Pad launch July 2022 of the prototype MK21A RV/W87-1 for integrated test under Contractor testing and Developmental testing with Operational observation.
The ICBM Fuze Modernization Program is a form, fit, and functionally equivalent replacement for the existing legacy Mk21 Arming and Fuzing Assembly (AFA), with no planned capability increase. The Fuze determines distance, speed, etc. & calculates when to send firing signals to the W87-0 warhead at a pre-determined point in flight. In 2021, the AFOTEC test team synchronized with Sandia National Labs (SNL) and Air Force Nuclear Weapon Center (AFNWC), to observe the program’s operational effectiveness, suitability, and readiness for Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, in support of the Fuze’s Milestone C decision. The AFOTEC test team observed various ground test events, culminating in Ground Test Unit 3C (GTU 3C) during September/October 2020. GTU 3C represented the most comprehensive and operationally representative performance test to date, and included a “hardware in the loop” test of a pre-production AFA across a full range of normal and abnormal flight profiles with all fuzing modes. The AFOTEC test team observed all test events and collected observations.