HomeNewsArticle Display

AFNWC team supports ICBM test launch

Photo of Minuteman III test launch

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:27 a.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. ICBM test launches demonstrate the U.S. nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to defend the United States and its allies. ICBMs provide the U.S. and its allies the necessary deterrent capability to maintain freedom to operate and navigate globally in accordance with international laws and norms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Patrick Harrower)

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:27 Pacific Daylight Time, Oct. 29, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. ICBM test launches demonstrate the U.S. nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to defend the United States and its allies. ICBMs provide the U.S. and its allies the necessary deterrent capability to maintain freedom to operate and navigate globally in accordance with international laws and norms. (U.S. Air Force video)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) --

A team of Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center experts supported the recent launch of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile to verify its accuracy and reliability, providing valuable data to ensure this safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent is ready every day to defend the United States and its allies.

An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III missile equipped with a single test reentry vehicle launched at 12:27 a.m. Pacific time on Oct. 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The Minuteman III missile’s reentry vehicle contained test instruments and traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

“These operational test launches serve multiple purposes,” said Col. Erik Quigley, Minuteman III Systems director. “First, they are a demonstration of our nuclear launch capability to all potential adversaries. Second, they provide assurance of continued launch capability to any allies that rely on our nuclear forces to support their security. And third, they help validate our models of the Minuteman III fleet to ensure the ICBMs continue to meet stringent nuclear launch requirements.”

The Minuteman III flight tests are conducted under Air Force Global Strike Command’s Nuclear Weapon System Evaluation Program, as part of the Air Force’s ongoing effort to test weapon systems in training missions and prepare aircrews for future mission requirements. The program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III, which is the ground-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad and a key element of national security for both the United States and its allies.

The nuclear enterprise community, including components from the Air Force, U.S. Strategic Command and the Department of Energy, collects data from these test launches and evaluates the entire spectrum of the launches to determine capability, supportability and accuracy. Everything is included in the evaluation, including selection of the missile to be tested, launch facility used and personnel delivering, maintaining and launching the missile.

“Like previous test launches, this event demonstrated the Air Force’s commitment to the nation’s nuclear enterprise while ensuring the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, and effective to deter our adversaries while reassuring our allies and partners,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. “We must continue to invest in this viable deterrent, and the Airmen who support this mission, as part of the most responsive leg of our nuclear triad.”

The AFNWC Minuteman III Systems directorate at Hill AFB, Utah, provides engineering and logistics support to AFGSC for an average of four test launches each year. In recent months, they have supported several launches during a busy test schedule.

The launch calendars are built three to five years in advance, and planning for each individual launch begins six months to a year prior to launch. Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.

For each ICBM test launch, the directorate conducts pre-launch analysis for the launch to determine if all systems are ready or if anomalies may impact the launch from both ground and flight systems perspectives.

It then assists the operational Minuteman III force with the random selection of the missile from the field, provides logistics support for the missile’s transfer to Vandenberg AFB and provides technical support to the 576th Flight Test Squadron during the before, during and after the test launch.

Members of the directorate are on hand at Vandenberg AFB to evaluate systems during the actual launch, including any unusual indications that may impact launch performance or personnel safety.

Finally, the Minuteman III Systems team analyzes the post-launch data to determine if the flight was within the expected parameters for performance. While the current Minuteman III system remains a safe, secure, and effective nuclear capability it faces increasing sustainment challenges as it continues to age.

The Minuteman III missile fleet was fielded in the 1970s, with an initial 10-year service life, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The launch infrastructure system spreads across five states and includes 400 missiles (under the New START Treaty requirements) on alert 24/7, 450 launch facilities and 45 launch control centers, which in some cases date back to the early 1960s.

The AFNWC Minuteman III team manages all of the ICBM’s sustainment activities to ensure the ICBM boosters, launchers and control centers maintain the operational effectiveness for the entire weapon system. Programmed depot maintenance is a key enabler for sustaining the basic infrastructure for the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, which will replace Minuteman III. They will also help manage the Minuteman III to GBSD transition starting in the late 2020s.

The GBSD ICBM will meet existing user requirements, while having the adaptability and flexibility to affordably address changing technology and threat environments through 2075. In September, the GBSD Systems directorate, also at Hill AFB, awarded an Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract to Northup Grumman.

The center is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command in direct support of AFGSC. Headquartered at Kirtland AFB, the center has about 1,800 personnel assigned to 18 locations worldwide.

Engage

Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: ICYMI: F16s from @Spangdahlem_AB are in the @CENTCOM AoR as part of a dynamic force employment to deter aggression & promote…
Twitter
Air power on display. https://t.co/M5SUj3Gq9K
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT invests $3 million to upgrade its Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. The CAOC also touted its dis…
Twitter
Global reach A B-52 Stratofortress flies in formation with F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-15E Strike Eagles during a… https://t.co/nw1bwI08gH
Twitter
The record scoring provides objective data for more informative assignment placement, hiring for special duty posit… https://t.co/zynYnvbMaC
Twitter
Updating training to better prepare future leaders Squadron Officer School's new curriculum challenges students to… https://t.co/pcbCqVbQ4F
Twitter
What are you having for dinner? 🍗 This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for our Airmen and families who make sacrifi… https://t.co/ID1vU6CWkH
Twitter
Looking to the future The Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold AFB, Tennessee, is leading the way for… https://t.co/uPDfihgdmq
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: #ICYMI @DMAFB trained dynamic force employment and agile combat employment during Exercise Bushwhacker 20-07. @ACC_Commander
Twitter
Ensuring the Nuclear Triad remains safe, secure, effective and ready. @MaxwellAFB, Alabama was selected as the pre… https://t.co/3ntc4MdzK8
Twitter
During the spring of 2020, the 35th Contracting Squadron solicited 35th Fighter Wing units for innovative ideas tha… https://t.co/y0H3oNR87q
Twitter
Coming in hot Crew chiefs assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Air Maintenance Squadron conduct hot-refuel training… https://t.co/bOue5e3y08
Twitter
Honoring heritage. The Tuskegee Airmen were not only pilots, they were support personnel as well. Although better… https://t.co/9dJPHKfnXS
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you @Ng_Eng_Hen for welcoming me to discuss the close U.S.-Singapore security partnership. The @USAirForce looks f…
Twitter
Measuring base readiness @Spangdahlem_AB Airmen participated in a base readiness exercise on Nov. 17. During the e… https://t.co/DK6PKX7Irs
Twitter
The Digital University was recently launched to increase digital literacy, by providing access to free courses to a… https://t.co/0fq0lgPEvu
Twitter
Combat Hammer ⚒️ Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina participated in exercise Combat Hammer, which is… https://t.co/sYUgdA0MLs
Twitter
555th Fighter Squadron Airmen prepare for takeoff during a bi-lateral exercise at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The train… https://t.co/3ZjJsLkn2O
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,313,300
Follow Us