BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile early Tuesday morning to demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces.
The missile blasted off from coastal Vandenberg Space Force Base at 12:49 a.m. and its reentry vehicle traveled about 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometers) over the Pacific to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“This test launch is part of routine and periodic activities intended to demonstrate that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Such tests have occurred more than 300 times before, and this test is not the result of current world events.”
The tests verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system and provide valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent.
“Make no mistake – our nuclear triad is the cornerstone of the national security in our country and of our allies around the globe,” 576 Flight Test Squadron Commander Colonel Chris Cruise said in a statement. “This scheduled test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ICBM fleet illustrates our readiness and reliability of the weapon system. It is also a great platform to show the skill sets and expertise of our strategic weapons maintenance personnel and of our missile crews who maintain an unwavering vigilance to defend the homeland.”
Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, were selected for the task force to support the test launch.
The LG-35A Sentinel will replace the aging Minuteman III ICBM with an initial capability of 2029, but the Air Force says it is committed to ensuring Minuteman III remains a viable deterrent until full capability is achieved in the mid-2030s.
Air Force Global Strike Command is a major command with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base. The command oversees the nation’s three intercontinental ballistic missile wings, the Air Force’s entire bomber force, including B-52, B-1, and B-2 wings, the Long Range Strike Bomber program, Air Force Nuclear Command, Control and Communications systems.