Steadying the Flow

Air Force Research Lab scientists and engineers at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, have resolved a technical issue with nozzles for the third stage of the Minuteman III ICBM, thereby sparing the service a costly redesign. Working with officials from industry and the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, they conducted a year-long study in 2007 to determine why molybdenum (Mo) nozzle throat-supports were cracking in new nozzle units. As a direct result of their work, the Air Force avoided approximately $120 million in cost that would have been necessary to design and validate a new nozzle build and $36 million for delays in nozzle production. For their efforts, the study team received the 2007 Brent Scowcroft Award for ICBM Acquisitions and Sustainment. (Wright-Patterson report by Pete Meltzer Jr.)