Editor's note: Citing the Freedom of Information Act, the Deseret News has been attempting since September 1988 to obtain Air Force reports on the MX accident. The Air Force refused to divulge the information in the interest of "national security." The Deseret News appealed the decision, but the Air Force has not yet ruled on the appeal.
Failure in the bonding of a "skirt" around the base of an MX missile allowed the nuclear weapon to drop roughly a half-foot to the bottom of its underground silo, according to a declassified Air Force report.
Although the missile's guidance system indicated that a launch was under way last June, that was only because of the severing of the system's umbilical cord, the report said.
"At this point in time, given that the sortie was in critical NO-GO state, the missile away indicator . . . was not an indication of launch but only an indication the missile umbilical had disconnected," the report stressed.
The Air Force said last year, when word first came of some kind of silo accident involving an MX missile, that the public's safety was never jeopardized.
The report, dated Nov. 7, 1988, was declassified Wednesday and released Friday by U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyo.
While the 16-page document said the missile's warheads were removed shortly after the problem was discovered, it did not mention what prompted the Air Force to remove the payloads from five other MX missiles based in southeastern Wyoming late last year The Washington Post reported last month that the five missiles had their warheads removed so the missiles could be repaired, but Air Force officials said only that the full force of 50 MX missiles based at F.E. Warren Air Force Base was operational.