Minuteman III ICBM

The US Air Force (USAF) is set to conduct an operational test launch of an unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on 21 May, from Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US.

A press release from the Global Strike Command stated that following its launch, the ICBM will boost a single re-entry vehicle approximately 4,190m to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, northern Pacific Ocean.

576th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) commander colonel Richard Pagliuco said the tests will provide USAF with an opportunity to present the operational readiness of its ICBM force.

”Every test provides valuable data regarding the accuracy and reliability of the weapon system,” Pagliuco added.

Scheduled to be carried out by the 91st Missile Wing personnel under the direction of 576th FLTS, the test launch will enable further evaluation and verification of missile’s effectiveness, readiness and accuracy, while also providing valuable information that will help the air force in its modernisation and sustainment through 2030.

The collected data will also be used by the agencies across the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Energy (DoE) to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, which represents a critical element of the national security and of its allies.

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Manufactured by Boeing, LGM-30G Minuteman III is a ground-based ICBM designed to deliver nuclear warheads, and represents one component of a nuclear triad that is complemented by the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and by nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bomber aircraft.

The missile entered operational service with USAF in 1968, and currently 450 Minuteman-III ICBMs are located in silos at the 90th Missile Wing at Warren AFB in Wyoming, the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB in Montana, and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB in North Dakota, US.

Image: A member of USAF personnel inspects a LGM-30G Minuteman III missile inside a silo at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, US. Photo: Courtesy of STAFF SGT. ALAN R. WYCHECK.

Defence Technology