BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with three test re-entry vehicles from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, at 1:13 a.m. Pacific Time Sept. 7 to demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.
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. Such tests have occurred more than 300 times before, and this test is not the result of current world events.
The ICBM's reentry vehicles 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.
“We have had a busy test schedule just in the past few months and I am in awe of the way our team has performed during each mission,” said Col. Christopher Cruise, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander. “Today’s launch sends a visible message of assurance to our allies, and I couldn’t be more proud of the mission of continued deterrence this launch represents.”
The test launch is a culmination of months of preparation that involve multiple government partners. The Airmen who perform this vital mission are some of the most skillfully trained and educated the Air Force has to offer.
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 three missile bases have crew members standing alert 24 hours a day, year-round, overseeing the nation’s ICBM alert forces.
“These tests show the reliability of our deterrence weapons systems, showcase the continued reliability of the Minuteman III, and the incredible people who make it work,” said Maj. Natalie Quinn, Task Force Commander. “All of these components comprise a system that stands on continuous alert, defending the United States and our allies 24/7.”
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.
Air Force Global Strike Command is a major command with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, in the Shreveport-Bossier City community. The command overseas the nation's three intercontinental ballistic missile wings, the Air Force’s entire bomber force, to include B-52, B-1 and B-2 wings, the B-21 Bomber program, Air Force Nuclear Command, Control and Communications systems, and operational and maintenance support to organizations within the nuclear enterprise. Approximately 33,700 professionals are assigned to two Numbered Air Forces, nine wings, two geographically-separated squadrons and one detachment in the continental United States and deployed to locations around the globe. More information can be found at: https://www.afgsc.af.mil/About/Fact-Sheets/Article/454593/air-force-global-strike-command-air-forces-strategic-air/.
The LG-35A Sentinel will replace the Minuteman III ICBM with an initial capability of 2029. Until full capability is achieved in the mid-2030s, the Air Force is committed to ensuring Minuteman III remains a viable deterrent.