Minuteman III

The US Air Force’s (USAF) 91st missile wing has successfully completed an operational test launch of an unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.

Performed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the Minot AFB team launched the ICBM with the collaboration of 576th Flight Test Squadron and 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB.

The 91st MW Task Force commander lieutenant colonel Eric Thompson said: "Launching an ICBM under operational conditions is a whole team effort, and that’s what we bring out here to replicate the scenarios in the field as close as possible.

"The operations and maintenance crews who come out here with us know the job they’re doing back home is important, and actually coming out here to launch an unarmed missile really solidifies the job we do every day with nuclear deterrence."

"Vandenberg has hosted the operational test launch programme for over five decades, we really have a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness and operational capabilities of our weapon systems."

The tests verified the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system and also offered valuable data to make sure the platform remains a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

The operations and maintenance crews from the supporting missile wing reassemble the missile and pull alert duties before each operational test launch.

Meanwhile, the latest launch marked the 45th anniversary of the 91st MW’s deployment of the Air Force’s first Minuteman III missiles on alert.

The 576th FLTS commander colonel Craig Ramsey said: "Vandenberg has hosted the operational test launch programme for over five decades, and its here that we really have a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness and operational capabilities of our weapon systems."


Image: An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Photo: courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo / Joe Davila.