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August 17, 2022

US AFGSC test launches unarmed Minuteman III ICBM

The test is aimed to validate readiness and effectiveness of US nuclear forces and nuclear deterrent.

The US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) has launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The ICBM, equipped with a test re-entry vehicle, was launched at 12:49am Pacific time on 16 August.

The AFGSC said that the re-entry vehicle, after being launched, travelled around 4,200 miles to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Conducted as part of the routine and periodic activities, the test validated the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system.

The test also provided valuable data and validated the US nuclear forces’ readiness along with the effectiveness and lethality of the country’s nuclear deterrent.

Data collected from such launches is used by the ICBM community, including the US Department of Defence (DoD), Department of Energy and US Strategic Command, to continue force development.

576th Flight Test Squadron commander colonel Chris Cruise said: “This scheduled test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ICBM fleet illustrates readiness and reliability of weapon system.

“It is also a great platform to show skill sets and expertise of our strategic weapons maintenance personnel and of our missile crews who maintain an unwavering vigilance to defend the homeland.”

The AFGSC claimed that this test was not the result of any current global event and such tests have previously been undertaken more than 300 times.

This test launch involved months of preparation, supported by various government partners and airmen from different task forces.

Task Force commander major Armand Wong said: “A meticulous planning process for each launch begins six months to a year prior to launch.”

The LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM will be replaced by LG-35A Sentinel ICBM.

The Sentinel ICBM is expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) by 2029 while full operational capability is anticipated during the mid-2030s.

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