USAF to test unarmed Minuteman III ICBM from Vandenberg AFB

6 November 2018 (Last Updated November 6th, 2018 10:04)

The US Air Force (USAF) is reportedly set to test an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB).

USAF to test unarmed Minuteman III ICBM from Vandenberg AFB
An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released.

The US Air Force (USAF) is reportedly set to test an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB).

To be carried out under an operational test between Tuesday midnight and early Wednesday, the launch was announced by the 30th Space Wing public affairs, which is a subordinate unit of the 14th Air Force of the USAF Space Command.

The land-based nuclear deterrent will be launched after an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM was reportedly aborted by the USAF when the weapon demonstrated an ‘anomaly’ in flight in July.

“Operational test launches of the Minuteman III provide valuable data to planners and holistically test the system, procedures and airmen.”

During the announcement of the launch, Vandenberg AFB officials were reported by NoozHawk as saying: “Operational test launches of the Minuteman III provide valuable data to planners and holistically test the system, procedures and airmen from the initial mission planning to the final weapons employment phases.

“These tests are not related to any real-world events.”

Every year, the USAF hosts four ICBM operational tests, each of which requires six to 12 months of planning before testing.

According to media reports, the first Minuteman III launch of 2018 was carried out in April from Vandenberg AFB. The missile landed at an undisclosed location in the Pacific Ocean, reported Gizmodo.

In 1958, Boeing was selected as the prime contractor and original equipment manufacturer for the Minuteman ICBM.