Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.S. Cargo Plane that Test-Launched ICBM Retiring
The first, and only aircraft to ever drop and ignite an ICBM was delivered to Dover Air Force Base last week, and will soon be transferred to the Air Mobility Command Museum, CNN reported.
The C-5 Galaxy, nicknamed Zero-One-Four, launched an unarmed Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile in 1974.
"It was radical. It broke with anything that had been done with ballistic missiles before -- or since," nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists told the network.
The idea was born from U.S. efforts to create new options for protecting nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union, which would have had more difficulty targeting an airplane carrying an ICBM than an underground silo system, CNN reported.
The test-launch was successful but never again used by the Pentagon, due to technical risks and high operational expenses, Kristensen told CNN. He described the project as a "wild card dream," to the network.
However, one nuclear strategy expert, ex-CIA analyst and former Reagan adviser Fritz Ermarth, told CNN that dropping a missile out of a plane "on a sled with parachutes was far from rocket science."
Pat O'Brien, a project engineer, said many people "felt they were trying to use this as a bargaining tool for the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitations) II Talks."
A dedication ceremony at the museum is slated for the fall.
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