Minuteman III test missile launches from Vandenberg

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A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile Sept. 23 at 7:45 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The ICBM's reentry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, included Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, North Dakota.

"This launch is the result of months of hard work and preparation by both our team here at Vandenberg, Airmen from Minot AFB and engineers from the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center," said Col. Kelvin Townsend, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. "This launch validated our teamwork and demonstrated a strong and visible display of America's deterrent and global strike capabilities."

"Like all Airmen in 20th Air Force and Task Force 214, the Airmen of the 91st Missile Wing are dedicated and highly-proficient in maintaining, securing and operating the ICBM leg of the nation's strategic deterrence capability," Col. Michael Lutton, 91st MW commander, said. "This launch allowed us to demonstrate that excellence."

Minot AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24-7 year round, overseeing the nation's 450 ICBM alert forces.

The entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command will use the data collected from this mission for continuing force development evaluation.

The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States' ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

(Courtesy Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs)