USAF test fires unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile
The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully conducted the test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) equipped with a test re-entry vehicle.
The Boeing-built land-based nuclear deterrent was test fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by a team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing.
The testing was aimed at validating the operational credibility of the ICBM system.
The re-entry vehicle, comprising of a telemetry package used for operational testing, travelled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Air Force Task Force commander lieutenant colonel Ron Clough said: “I’m extremely proud of the 21 maintainers and operators from the 341st Missile Wing Task Force who worked flawlessly alongside the professionals from the 576th Flight Test Squadron to make this mission a success.
“An effort on this scale, and the enormous insights it gives to force readiness, continue to showcase the Minuteman III as the world's premier deterrence and assurance capability.”
The test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, by providing data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.
The data collected from test launches will be used by the ICBM community, including the US Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and US Strategic Command for continuing force development evaluation.
Image: An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test on 5 September. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Michael Peterson.