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US Air Force fires off Minuteman III ballistic missile in routine testing

written by Robert Dougherty | February 14, 2023

U.S. Air Force Minuteman III. Photo: Airman 1st Class Landon Gunsauls

The US Air Force Global Strike Command has launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile in routine testing held last week.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and its test re-entry vehicle were launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and travelled around 6,700 kilometres before splashing down in the Kwajalein Atoll on the Marshall Islands.

The launch is part of routine and periodic activities to ensure the nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable, and effective.

Air Force Global Strike Command Commander General Thomas A Bussiere said more than 300 similar test launches have occurred.

“A test launch displays the heart of our deterrence mission on the world’s stage, assuring our nation and its allies that our weapons are capable and our airmen are ready and willing to defend peace across the globe at a moment’s notice,” he said.

The US Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the US Strategic Command all use data collected from test launches for force development evaluation.

Colonel Christopher Cruise, 377th Test and Evaluation Group Commander, said 91st Missile Wing Airmen at Minot Air Force Base were selected for the task force to support the test launch.


“This launch showcases the redundancy and reliability of our strategic deterrence systems while sending a visible message of assurance to allies,” he said.

“This multilateral team reflects the precision and professionalism of our command, and our joint partners.”

The LG-35A Sentinel will replace the Minuteman III ICBM with an initial capability of 2029. Minuteman III ICBMs will remain a viable and fully capable deterrent until that replacement is achieved in the mid-2030s.

“This test launch is a culmination of months of preparation and collaboration across multiple Air Forces agencies,” said task force commander Major Martin Escarzaga.

“The airmen who perform this mission of strategic deterrence are the best our nation has to offer. They work 365 days a year to maintain, support, operate, and secure this vital component of our nuclear triad.”


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