US conducts second Minuteman III ICBM test launch in a week

According to a statement by Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, the United States has conducted the second test launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from the US Space Force Vandenberg base in one week.

An unarmed Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launches during an operational test at 1:46 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6, 2024, at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif,” the statement reads.

The first operational test took place on June 4.

According to the US military, “ICBM test launches demonstrate that the US ICBM fleet is ready, reliable and effective in leveraging dominance in an era of strategic competition.”

This test underscores the United States’ commitment to maintaining a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear deterrent.

The Minuteman III, equipped with a single reentry vehicle, traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. This launch is part of routine and periodic activities and is not connected to current world events. These tests, which have occurred over 300 times, aim to demonstrate the readiness and effectiveness of the US nuclear deterrent to counter 21st-century threats and provide reassurance to allies.

“The fact that we were able to complete two operational test launches in one week is a testament to the excellence and professionalism of the Airmen and Guardians who carry out this mission every day,” said Col. Chris Cruise, Commander of the 377th Test and Evaluation Group. “This morning’s launch demonstrates our commitment to deterrence, serving as the cornerstone of security for our allies and partners across the globe.”

The test involved extensive preparation, with support from multiple government partners. Airmen from all three missile wings were part of the task force for the launch, and maintenance support was provided by the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. The Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) oversees three ICBM wings, ensuring that crew members are on alert 24/7, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

“Our ICBM force provides 24/7 strategic deterrence and stands ready to respond at a moment’s notice as the most responsive leg of the nuclear triad,” stated Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, Commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command. “These test launches confirm our readiness to deliver a safe, secure, effective, and credible global combat capability.”

Data collected from these tests, including radar, optical, and telemetry information, is used for force development evaluation by the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command. This data is crucial for assessing the operational capability of the Minuteman III and ensuring that the United States maintains a strong and credible nuclear deterrent, which is a key element of national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

Air Force Global Strike Command, headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, oversees the nation’s three intercontinental ballistic missile wings and the entire bomber force, including B-52, B-1, and B-2 wings. The command is responsible for the Long Range Strike Bomber program, Air Force Nuclear Command, Control and Communications systems, and operational and maintenance support within the nuclear enterprise. Approximately 33,700 professionals are assigned to the command, which marks its 15th anniversary in 2024.

The Minuteman III tests reinforce the United States’ role in maintaining international peace and security through credible deterrence.

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