HAFB explosions

The Air Force detonates a solid-rocket motor June 2, 2015, at the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah. A series of large detonation operations will begin in early August and last through the end of September 2018 at the range. The destruction of the motors is occurring to eliminate aged propellant, and as part of international treaties to reduce the number of ballistic missiles. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — If you’re near western Utah and hear a loud bang in the next two months, relax. It’s just a drill.

The Air Force will have a number of “large detonation operations” at the Utah Test and Training Range that will start in early August and will end in September, according to a press release from Hill Air Force Base.

Two to three times a week, the Air Force will be destroying rocket motors and solid fuel for ballistic missiles. The detonations are part of an effort to reduce the number of ballistic missiles, the release says.

“Detonation is the best environmental method for disposing of the rocket motors and propellant,” Michelle Cottle, 75th Civil Engineer Group Environmental Branch Chief, said in the release.

Over 300 rocket motors have been destroyed at the west desert military site since 2012, the release says.

From time to time, the explosions can be heard along the Wasatch Front, despite the military’s analysis of wind speed, atmospheric readings and other factors. Sometimes their models do not accurately predict sound levels and the explosions can be heard farther east.

“This happened once in 2014 and once in 2017,” Cottle said in the release. “This is why we typically limit the detonations to late spring and summer.”

In the release, Cottle added that “the UTTR is the only location in the United States capable of destroying these missile motors and we do everything possible to do this work without adversely affecting those around us.”

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