The US Air Force has carried out the third test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile this year.
The latest launch took place on September 2, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The previous two occurred in early February and early August.
As noted by the air force, the test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective. The service added that the launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.
Worth noting is that the latest launch comes just days after the Minuteman III ICBM marked 50 years of service in late August.
The ICBM’s reentry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The missile came from the 91st Missile Wing, but due to COVID restrictions, maintenance actions were performed by technicians from the 91st and 90th Maintenance Groups and missile combat crews were supplied by all three Missile Wings as well as the 576th Flight Test Squadron.
“This operational test launch is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation that involve multiple partners,” said Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander. “I couldn’t be more impressed with the team that we partner with to successfully execute this mission. The men and women from the 90th, 91st and 341st Missile Wings, 576th FLTS, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and the 30th Space Wing here at Vandenberg, among other mission partners, made this look easy, but it was far from that.”
“This operational test launch was especially challenging considering the effects of the pandemic, but the Task Force from all three Missile Wings did an outstanding job coming together to accomplish this important mission,” said Maj. Patrick McAfee, Task Force Commander. “From the deposture at Minot to reposture, alert and launch at Vandenberg, this team exhibited the professionalism they bring every day to our nation’s nuclear deterrent force.”