During a test conducted by the U.S. Air Force today, the Minuteman III missile travelled approximately 4,200 miles.
The test was held by a team of Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center experts. An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III missile equipped with a single test reentry vehicle launched at 12:27 a.m. Pacific time on October 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The Minuteman III missile’s reentry vehicle contained test instruments and traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the service said in a statement.
“These operational test launches serve multiple purposes,” said Col. Erik Quigley, Minuteman III Systems director. “First, they are a demonstration of our nuclear launch capability to all potential adversaries. Second, they provide assurance of continued launch capability to any allies that rely on our nuclear forces to support their security. And third, they help validate our models of the Minuteman III fleet to ensure the ICBMs continue to meet stringent nuclear launch requirements.”
The Minuteman III flight tests are conducted under Air Force Global Strike Command’s Nuclear Weapon System Evaluation Program, as part of the Air Force’s ongoing effort to test weapon systems in training missions and prepare aircrews for future mission requirements. The program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III, which is the ground-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad and a key element of national security for both the United States and its allies.
The Minuteman III missile fleet was fielded in the 1970s, with an initial 10-year service life, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The launch infrastructure system spreads across five states and includes 400 missiles (under the New START Treaty requirements) on alert 24/7, 450 launch facilities and 45 launch control centers, which in some cases date back to the early 1960s.