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The US Air Force (USAF) is set to conduct an operational test launch of its Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on 19 August.

Scheduled to be conducted from north Vandenberg Air Force Base, the ICBM test launch programme is aimed to asses and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system.

Launch decision authority 30th Space Wing commander colonel J. Christopher Moss said: "The upcoming Minuteman III launch is the culmination of a tremendous effort by both the 30th Space Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command.

"The teamwork between the two organizations is simply fantastic and it is the cornerstone of continued success for Minuteman test launches from Vandenberg AFB."

Manufactured by Boeing, the LGM-30G Minuteman III is a ground-based, long-range, solid-fuel, three-stage ICBM designed to carry single or multiple nuclear warheads.

The missile forms one component of a nuclear triad that is complemented by the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile and by nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bomber aircraft.

"The teamwork between the two organizations is simply fantastic and it is the cornerstone of continued success for Minuteman test launches from Vandenberg AFB."

Started in 1958, the Minuteman missile programme test launched the first missile in the series in February 1961.

The second version of the missile was launched in 1964, while Minuteman III made its debut in 1968 demonstrating better accuracy, range and target capability.

In May, the USAF Global Strike Command Airmen tested an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile installed with a test re-entry vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The launch was initiated by crew members from the 625th STOS.


Image: An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in May 2015. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Joe Davila.