Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs
/ Published May 01, 2019
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 2:42 A.M. Pacific Time May 1, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy)
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 2:42 A.M. Pacific Time May 1, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks)
A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle at 2:42 a.m. Pacific Time May 1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, ready and appropriately tailored to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.
The ICBM's reentry vehicle, which contained a high-fidelity package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. These 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.
“The test launch is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation that involve multiple partners," said Col. Dave Kelley, 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 MW, 576th FLTS, and the 30th Space Wing here at Vandenberg made this look easy, but it was far from that! It’s a testament to the dedication and professionalism of these great organizations.”
F.E. Warren 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.
"Members of the 90th MW were selected for this task force based on their demonstrated commitment, dedication to the mission and proficiency in maintaining and operating the nation's ICBM force,” said Maj. Travis Hilliard, Task Force commander. “I'm extremely proud of the team's ability to prepare the ICBM for the test and monitor the sortie up until test execution. The tasks they have accomplished here have been done with the same level of precision and professionalism as they are every day back in the missile fields in Wyoming," he said.
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 capability 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.
The launch calendars are built three to five years in advance, and planning for each individual launch begins six months to a year prior to launch.