USAF test launches unarmed Minuteman III ballistic missile
The US Air Force (USAF) Global Strike Command Airmen has tested an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) installed with a test re-entry vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), California.
The ICBM's re-entry vehicle consisted of a telemetry package used for operational testing. The vehicle travelled around 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
This test launch was aimed at verifying accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.
USAF 576th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) commander colonel Craig Ramsey, said: "The flight test program demonstrates one part of the operational capability if the ICBM weapon system.
"When coupled with the other facets of our test program, we get a complete picture of the weapon system's reliability.
"But perhaps most importantly, this visible message of national security serves to assure our partners and dissuade potential aggressors."
Under the direction of the 576th FLTS, Vandenberg AFB, the launch team included airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron (STOS) at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
The data collected from this mission will be used by the US Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and US Strategic Command to continue force development evaluation.
USAF 91st MW Task Force Director of Operations major Keith Schneider said: "It has been an amazing experience for the operations and maintenance members of Team Minot to partner with the professionals from the 576th FLTS, 30th SW and 625th STOS. Everyone involved has worked hard and dedicated themselves to the mission."
In May last year, USAF completed a similar test launch at the Vandenberg AFB.
Image: An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. Photo: US Air Force / Michael Peterson.