An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched from North Vandenberg’s Launch Facility-10 at 12:01 a.m. today...
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched from North Vandenberg at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 16. The mission is part of the force development evaluation program to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the nation's ICBM fleet. (Courtesy photo)
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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched from North Vandenberg’s Launch Facility-10 at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 16.
“The purpose of the flight was to verify the Minuteman III’s ability to carry the safer and more accurate Mark 21 warhead, originally designed for the Peacekeeper missile,” said Lt. Col. S.L. Davis, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander.
The missile’s single unarmed re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,800 miles in about 30 minutes, hitting a pre-determined target at the Kwajelin Missile Range in the western chain of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander, was the spacelift commander, and Colonel Davis was the mission director.
“Our team worked tirelessly to ensure 100-percent mission success in our first Minuteman III launch of the year,” Colonel Weinstein said. “Hundreds of different measurements were taken before and during the missile’s flight, including such things as nozzle position, temperatures, velocities, issuance of commands, etc.,” Colonel Davis said. Several weeks prior to the launch, members of the 576th FLTS processed and prepared the missile for the launch with support from the 30th SW.
The data collected will be used by the entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.
The reliability and accuracy data will also be used by United States Strategic Command planners to ensure effective employment of the Minuteman III, should it be required.
“The data collected from these missions is used to ensure a safe and reliable ICBM force, making each launch a critical element in our nation’s defense,” Colonel Weinstein said.