7/20/2006 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from here today at 3:14 a.m.
The launch was part of an operational test to determine the weapon system's reliability and accuracy. This launch also exercised U.S. Strategic Command's Airborne Launch Control System, which flies on a Navy E-6B Mercury aircraft.
The missile's three unarmed re-entry vehicles traveled approximately 4,200 miles before hitting their pre-determined targets at the Reagan Test Site, located in the Marshall Islands.
"This mission continues a long string of successful ICBM flight tests from Vandenberg," said Lt. Col. S.L. Davis, the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander who was the mission director for today's launch. "It clearly demonstrates the capability of both the Minuteman III weapon system and those who maintain and operate it, to include the hundreds of professionals across the Department of Defense who are critical to each mission's success."
The reliability and accuracy data will also be used by U.S. Strategic Command planners.
"This launch marks the first mission commanded from Vandenberg's new Western Range Operations Control Center," said spacelift commander Col. John Raymond, 30th Operations Group commander. "This is a significant milestone for the Western Range, representing a tremendous amount of work by the 30th Space Wing, the Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, our range contractors and our mission partners in the 576th."