Vandenberg launches Minuteman III

A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle on Monday at 2:10 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

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 continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

“I can’t say enough great things about the partners I share this mission set with,” Col. Craig Ramsey, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, said. “The men and women from the 341st Missile Wing Task Force, the Airmen from my squadron, and our host unit here at Vandenberg made this look easy, but it was anything but that. To put all of this together for an on-time launch following an enormous reconfiguration of range assets that took six months to complete…it’s simply a testament to the dedication and professionalism of these proud organizations. I’m proud to play a small part in it.”

The launch was the first from Vandenberg in six months, after scheduled downtime on the Western Range, according to Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander.

VAFB hosted two ICBM test launches in February before shutting down launch operations ahead of a relocation project. That relocation included the renovation of existing base facilities, as well as consolidation of personnel and equipment from the Launch and Test Range System.

Malmstrom AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24 hours a day, year-round, overseeing the nation’s ICBM alert forces.

“I’m extremely proud of the 21 maintainers and operators from the 341st Missile Wing Task Force who worked flawlessly alongside the professionals from the 576 FLTS to make this mission a success,” Lt. Col. Ron Clough, Task Force commander, said. “An effort on this scale, and the enormous insights it gives to force readiness, continue to showcase the Minuteman III as the world’s premier deterrence and assurance capability.”

The ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command uses data collected from test launches 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.

from Department of Rocket Launches