BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. – A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with test reentry vehicles Feb. 8 at 11:39 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The ICBM's reentry vehicles, which contained telemetry packages 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.
“The men and women from the 91st Missile Wing Task Force, the Airmen from my squadron, and our host unit here at Vandenberg worked tirelessly to pull this launch off—it was awesome to see everyone’s hard work pay off!” said Col. Craig Ramsey, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “These Airmen make me proud every day, and efforts like these make nuclear deterrence effective.”
Minot 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 am exceedingly proud of the maintainers and operators from the 91st Missile Wing, including those that supported this mission from the onset. This Task Force worked flawlessly alongside the absolute professionals from the 576 FLTS to make this mission a success,” Maj. Neil Copenhaver, GT221 Task Force commander, said. “Promoting the deterrence, assurance and strike capability of the Minuteman III, along with the insight it provides to force readiness, could not be done without the dedication, professionalism and teamwork of the men and women throughout the 91st Missile Wing.”
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.