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Air Force resumes large detonations at Utah Test and Training Range

The Air Force detonates a solid-rocket motor June 2, 2015, at the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah. A series of large detonation operations will begin in early August and last through the end of September 2018 at the range. The destruction of the motors is occurring to eliminate aged propellant, and as part of international treaties to reduce the number of ballistic missiles. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

The Air Force detonates a solid-rocket motor June 2, 2015, at the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Air Force will resume large detonation operations at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) July 15 and continuing through the end of August 2019.

The detonations will occur two or three times a week and involve destroying the rocket motors and solid propellant of Air Force and Navy ballistic missiles. These detonations eliminate aged propellant and support our part of international treaties to reduce the number of ballistic missiles.

“Detonation is the best environmental method for disposing of the rocket motors and propellant,” said Michelle Cottle, the environmental branch chief for the 75th Civil Engineer Group. Since 2012, more than 300 rocket motors have been destroyed at the UTTR.

Before each large detonation at the UTTR – those involving more than 10,000 pounds of net explosive weight – the Air Force takes atmospheric readings and enters them into a sound model to determine if conditions are acceptable for a large detonation. If the model predicts that noise is going to be louder than permitted levels at locations along the Wasatch Front, base officials will delay detonations.

“The UTTR is the only location in the United States capable of destroying these missile motors,” Cottle said, “and we do everything possible to do this work without adversely affecting those around us.”