USAF tests unarmed Minuteman III ICBM with test re-entry vehicle

3 September 2020 (Last Updated September 3rd, 2020 12:03)

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

USAF tests unarmed Minuteman III ICBM with test re-entry vehicle
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test. Credit: Connor Riley.

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

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

It is said to showcase that the nuclear deterrent of the US is safe, secure, reliable and effective in deterring attacks on the country and its allies.

During the operational test, the re-entry vehicle of the missile travelled around 4,200 miles to the 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.

USAF 576th Flight Test Squadron commander colonel Omar Colbert said: “This operational test launch is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation that involve multiple partners.

“I couldn’t be more impressed with the team that we partner with to successfully execute this mission.

“The men and women from the 90th (Missile Wing), 91st (MW) and 341st MWs, 576th FLTS, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and the 30th Space Wing here at Vandenberg, among other mission partners, made this look easy, but it was far from that.

“Our phenomenal results are a testament to the dedication and professionalism of these proud organisations, and their hard work sends a visible message of deterrence to the world.”

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

Earlier this week, Science Applications International (SAIC) won an order to support the USAF’s 414th Supply Chain Management Squadron’s ICBM LGM-30 Minuteman III missile system.

In February, USAF announced the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM during a developmental test from the Vandenberg AFB.