Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Air Force has decertified 34 nuclear missile launch officers at the Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana for cheating in a proficiency exam and ordered all 190 officers in the base to retake the test on Wednesday.
Sixteen officers of the 341st Missile Wing received via SMS answers to the monthly missile launch officer proficiency tests conducted in August and September while the rest of the examinees did not report the cheating, new Air Force Secretary Deborah James told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday.
The cheaters with ranks of second lieutenant to captain were restricted from missile crew duty and their security clearances were suspended, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said.
Meanwhile, 20 percent of all missile crewmembers in all three of the nation’s nuclear missile wings took the repeat test ordered by the commander of Global Strike Command on Wednesday and 95 percent of them passed, said Welsh. The passing rate matches historical average, he said.
The repeat exam covering the rest of the missile crewmembers in F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming; Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota; and Malmstrom will be finished by Thursday, James said.
The cheating scandal comes as three missile launch officers at Malmstrom and F.E. Warren as well as eight personnel at other Air Force bases were implicated in an illegal narcotics investigation last weekend. Two of the Malmstrom cheaters are also involved in the drug scandal, Air Force officials said.