Accuracy and reliability

A combined team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base (AFB), Wyoming, the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, launched an unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a single test re-entry vehicle April 26 at 12:03 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The missile used in GT220 launched in the early hours of the morning with a launch command delivered from the Air Launch Control System on a Navy E-6 Mercury jet.

An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launches during an operational test at 12:03 a.m., PDT, April 26, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark P. Mackey)
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launches during an operational test at 12:03 a.m., PDT, April 26, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark P. Mackey)

The ICBM’s re-entry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, approximately 4,200 miles/6,759 km away from the launch site. Test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

«I can’t say enough great things about the partners I share this mission set with», Colonel Craig Ramsey, 576th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) commander, said. «The men and women from the Task Force, the Airmen from my squadron, and our host unit here at Vandenberg made this look easy, but it was anything but that! It’s a testament to the dedication and professionalism of these proud organizations. I’m proud to play a small part in it»!

F.E. Warren 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. The LGM-30G Minuteman III is one of three legs of the nuclear triad, which is also comprised of strategic bombers such as the B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit, as well as submarine launched ballistic missions, provided by U.S. Navy submarines.

«I’m extremely proud of the 16 maintainers and operators from the combined 90th Missile Wing and 341st Missile Wing Task Force who worked hand-in-hand with the 576 FLTS to make this launch possible», said Lieutenant Colonel Tony Rhoades, Task Force commander. «This mission requires a tremendous amount of discipline, training and attention to detail. Our Airmen demonstrated this with true professionalism and proved that the Minuteman III remains the nation’s premier deterrence and assurance capability».

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 credibility of the LGM-30G 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.

 

General characteristics

Primary function Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Contractor Boeing Co.
Power plant Three solid-propellant rocket motors: first stage ATK refurbished M55A1; second stage ATK refurbished SR-19; third stage ATK refurbished SR-73
Technologies chemical systems division thrust first stage: 203,158 pounds/92,151 kg; second stage: 60,793 pounds/27,575 kg; third stage: 35,086 pounds/15,915 kg
Weight 79,432 pounds/36,030 kg
Diameter 5.5 feet/1.67 m
Range 5,218 NM/6,005 miles/9,664 km
Speed approximately Mach 23/15,000 mph/24,000 km/h at burnout
Ceiling 700 miles/1,120 km
Date deployed June 1970, production cessation: December 1978
Inventory 450

 

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