The US Air Force (USAF) has test-fired another unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) equipped with a test re-entry vehicle.
The test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US, was conducted by a team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at FE Warren AFB, Wyoming, US.
576th Flight Test Squadron commander colonel Dave Kelley said: “This operational test launch highlights the commitment and outstanding professionalism of the 90th Missile Wing, the 576th Flight Test Squadron, and our mission partners in the 30th Space Wing.
“These test launches require the highest degree of technical competence and commitment at every level and provide critical data necessary to validate the reliability, accuracy and performance of the ICBM force.”
The testing was not conducted in response to recent North Korean actions and was aimed at validating the operational capability of the ICBM system.
It demonstrated that the US’ nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the country and its allies.
Comprising a telemetry package used for operational testing, the re-entry vehicle travelled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The FE Warren AFB is one of three missile bases responsible for monitoring the nation’s ICBM alert forces.
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.
The Boeing-built Minuteman III is a ground-based strategic deterrent designed to replace the USAF's LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM weapon system.
Expected to enter operational service in 2027, the missile will remain in service through 2075.
Image: An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US. Photo: courtesy of the USAF.