WARRENSBURG, Missouri -- As Whiteman Air Force Base in western Missouri prepares for the arrival of its first B-2 Stealth bomber this month, U.S. Air Force officials have begun demolishing 150 missile silos in the state.
An Air Force demolition team Wednesday blew up the first silo 10 miles south of Warrensburg and 40 miles southeast of Kansas City.
Engineers used 450 pounds of high explosives to destroy the part of the silo extending above ground. The rubble filled the underground portion of the silo, which extends about 100 feet down. The site will be graded and eventually sold. Each of the silos occupies about an acre.
The demolition work is required under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that the United States signed with the former Soviet Union. All of the 150 missiles controlled at Whiteman since the early 1960s have been stripped of their nuclear warheads. Since last year, 58 missiles have been hauled away from the silos.
The warheads were taken to the U.S. Department of Energy, where they will be dismantled, Air Force officials said. They said the Minuteman II missiles will be used by NASA to launch satellites.
Plans call for the remaining missiles in Missouri to be removed at the rate of about one per week, Air Force officials said.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources asked the Air Force to preserve one of the Whiteman silos for use as a museum, but the Air Force said the SALT treaty requires them to be blown up.