Cargo Plane that Test-Launched ICBM Retiring

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 13, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

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.