USAF test-launches unarmed Minuteman III ballistic missile

25 February 2021 (Last Updated February 25th, 2021 11:46)

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

USAF test-launches unarmed Minuteman III ballistic missile
An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III ICBM launches during operational test. Credit: US Space Force / Chris Okula.

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

The launch took place from Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US. It was conducted by a team of Air Force Global Strike Command airmen.

During the test, the re-entry vehicle of the missile travelled around 4,200 miles to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

This test was aimed at validating the operational capability of the ICBM system and was not conducted in response or reaction to any current world events or regional tensions.

Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) deputy commander general Anthony Cotton said: “Operational tests validate our Minuteman III readiness and reliability.

“It further demonstrates to our citizens, our allies and our partners that men and women across three missile wings provide credible overwatch with a strategic deterrent that is safe, secure and effective.”

The test launch was carried out after many months of preparation involving various government partners.

USAF 341st Missile Wing provided the missile and the 576th Flight Test Squadron and personnel from all three AFGSC missile wings supported the test launch.

The ICBM community uses data collected from test launches to ensure continuity of force development evaluation.

The ICBM community includes the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Energy, and US Strategic Command.

Built by Boeing, the Minuteman III ICBM is a long-range, solid-fuel, three-stage ICBM capable of carrying single or multiple nuclear warheads.