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|446th Missile Squadron|
LGM-30G Minuteman III test launch at Vandenburg AFB, California
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Intercontinental ballistic missile|
|Garrison/HQ||Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota.|
World War II (EAME Theater)
Distinguished Unit Citation (2x)
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|446th Missile Squadron emblem[note 1]|
|446th Bombardment Squadron emblem (SAC) (approved 4 May 1956)|
|446th Bombardment Squadron emblem (World War II)[note 2]|
The 446 MS was equipped with the LGM-30G Minuteman III Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with a mission of nuclear deterrence. With the end of the Cold War, the 446th was inactivated on 30 September 1998.
Activated in mid-1942 as a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber squadron, it was trained by the Third Air Force in the southeastern United States. It deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), and was assigned to the Twelfth Air Force in Algeria in early 1943. In North Africa, the squadron was engaged primarily in support and interdictory operations, bombing marshalling yards, rail lines, highways, bridges, viaducts, troop concentrations, gun emplacements, shipping, harbors and other objectives.
The squadron also engaged in psychological warfare missions, dropping propaganda leaflets behind enemy lines. It took part in the Allied operations against Axis forces in North Africa during March–May 1943, the reduction of Pantelleria and Lampedusain islands during June.
It was also involved in the invasion of Sicily in July, the landing at Salerno on the Italian mainland in September, the Allied advance toward Rome during January–June 1944, the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 and the Allied operations in northern Italy from September 1944 to April 1945. It was inactivated in Italy after the German capitulation in September 1945.
The squadron was reactivated in 1953 as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-47 Stratojet squadron. It trained in aerial refueling and strategic bombardment operations with the B-47. The squadron began transferring its B-47s to other SAC wings and became non-operational as part of that aircraft's phaseout in 1961.
On 1 November 1963 the 446th Strategic Missile Squadron was organized as a SAC LGM-30F Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile wing. Activated on 1 Jul 1965, it was made operational on 7 December 1966, with a complement of 50 missiles. It participated in "Project Long Life II," a unique reliability test in which modified Minuteman missiles were fueled to travel a few hundred yards. The first launch from a silo occurred on 19 October 1966 and was declared unsuccessful. Nine days later, a second attempt also failed. A third attempt under "Project Giant Boost" occurred in August 1968 and again proved unsuccessful.
From December 1971 to March 1973, the squadron converted to the LGM-30G Minuteman III. These missiles represented a significant technological advancement, having multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Coordinating the missile changeover required complex planning and execution.
With the restructuring of the Air Force and the disestablishment of Strategic Air Command in the early 1990s, it was reassigned to Air Combat Command (ACC) in 1992 and then came under Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) in 1993.
In March 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission selected the 321st Strategic Missile Wing for inactivation. The squadron was ordered to securely transfer its alert responsibilities to the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. It maintained nuclear alert until inactivated in 1998, nearly 40 years after it first went on alert.