VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) — An Air Force Global Strike Command team launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) equipped with a test reentry vehicle March 27 at 3:53 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The test reentry vehicle impacted in a pre-established test area in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam, approximately 40 minutes after launch.
All test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.
The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, included Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, and was the second test launch of a Minuteman III this week. The 576th Flight Test Squadron and 90th Missile Wing, at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, completed the first unarmed Minuteman III launch of the week from Vandenberg AFB on March 23.
“An operational test launch requires hard work, months of preparation, and outstanding teamwork between personnel on both bases,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Hays, the 341st Missile Wing Task Force commander. “These launches are a visible reminder to both our adversaries and our allies of the readiness and capability of the Minuteman III weapon system, and without the dedication of the men and women from both the 576th and the 341st, this test could not have happened.”
“The two launches from the past week were a full team effort between the 576th, and the 90th and 341st Missile Wings,” said Col. Kelvin Townsend, the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “Launching multiple missiles in close proximity to each other adds an extra amount of realism to the operational test mission we fulfill here. These test launches occur due to the training and strict attention to detail our people have, which resulted in a reliable test.”
Malmstrom and Warren AFBs are two of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24/7 year-round, overseeing the nation’s ICBM alert forces.
The ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command will use the data collected from this mission for continuing force development evaluation.
The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.