The U.S. Air Force launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., during an operational test at 6:27 a.m. PDT, May 22.
Col. Brent McArthur, the 30th Space Wing’s Vice Wing Commander, was the launch decision authority.
The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, included crew members from the 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, N.D. Maintenance and operations task force members from the 91st Missile Wing have also conducted operational tasks in support of the launch.
The 576th FLTS is responsible for installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile, which collect data and ensure safety requirements are met.
“Every test launch represents the hard work and dedication of those involved in this mission,” said Col. Richard Pagliuco, the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “The operational test launch mission is vital in ensuring a safe, secure and effective ICBM force.”
The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system, according to Air Force Global Strike Command officials.
The test also supports U.S. strategic deterrence efforts as outlined in the 2010 Department of Defense Nuclear Posture Review by demonstrating the operational credibility of the Minuteman III.
Agencies across the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy will use the data collected from this mission to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. The United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent is a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and friends.