The US Air Force (USAF) has conducted a further test-fire of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) equipped with a single test re-entry vehicle.

On 3 May, the latest test launch was conducted from the Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), California, following a similar test-firing carried out on 26 April.

The test launches validate the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, while the data collected will be used by the US Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and US Strategic Command for continuing force development evaluation.

A team of Air Force Global Strike Command airmen carried out the launch from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

30th Space Wing commander colonel Chris Moss said: "The dedication and expertise of the combined 341st Missile Wing, 576th Flight Test Squadron and 30th Space Wing team is simply amazing.

"Their efforts to make this mission possible over the past ten months shows why they are some of the most skilled operators in the Air Force."

“Their efforts to make this mission possible over the past ten months shows why they are some of the most skilled operators in the Air Force."

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Consisting of 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 ICBM test launch programme is conducted to demonstrate the operational capability of the Minuteman III, while it is also said to ensure the country's ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of national security and the security of its allies and partners.

The Boeing-built Minuteman III is a ground-based strategic impediment that is intended to replace the USAF's LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM weapon system.

Expected to enter service in 2027, the missile will remain in use until 2075.

Image: An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo/second lieutenant William Collette.