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Minuteman III test launch demonstrates safe, reliable deterrent

Photo of Minuteman III test launch

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:27 a.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. ICBM test launches demonstrate the U.S. nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to defend the United States and its allies. ICBMs provide the U.S. and its allies the necessary deterrent capability to maintain freedom to operate and navigate globally in accordance with international laws and norms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)

Photo of Minuteman III test launch

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:27 a.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. ICBM test launches demonstrate the U.S. nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to defend the United States and its allies. ICBMs provide the U.S. and its allies the necessary deterrent capability to maintain freedom to operate and navigate globally in accordance with international laws and norms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)

Photo of Minuteman III test launch

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:27 a.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. ICBM test launches demonstrate the U.S. nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to defend the United States and its allies. ICBMs provide the U.S. and its allies the necessary deterrent capability to maintain freedom to operate and navigate globally in accordance with international laws and norms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Patrick Harrower)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle at 12:27 a.m. Pacific Time Oct. 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies.

“Like previous test launches, this event demonstrated the Air Force’s commitment to the Nation’s nuclear enterprise while ensuring the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, and effective to deter our adversaries while reassuring our allies and partners,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. “We must continue to invest in this viable deterrent, and the Airmen who support this mission, as part of the most responsive leg of our nuclear triad.”

The ICBM's reentry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. These 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.

“We have had a busy test launch schedule the last few months, and our team has worked very hard to successfully execute each mission,” said Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander. “Today’s launch sends a visible message of deterrence to the world, and I couldn’t be more proud of the dedication and professionalism of our team.”

The test launch demonstrates that even during the pandemic, AFGSC maintains this capability. The missile came from the 91st Missile Wing, with men and women supporting the launch from all three AFGSC missile wings as well as the 576th Flight Test Squadron. 

“This test took a missile and an incredible team of maintainers and launch crews, all pulled from active missile wings, and that really demonstrates the continued readiness and reliability of both the Minuteman III and the professional men and women who support it,” said Lt. Col. Brock Sargent, Task Force Commander. “Together we make up a weapon system that stands on continuous alert, defending the United States and our allies 24/7, just as we have for the last 50 years.”

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.

The launch calendars are built three to five years in advance, and planning for each individual launch begins six months to a year prior to launch. Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.

Air Force Global Strike Command is comprised of more than 33,700 Airmen and civilians assigned to two numbered air forces, 11 wings, two geographically-separated squadrons and one detachment in the continental United States, and deployed to locations around the globe. The command oversees all bomber and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile operations for the U.S. Department of Defense. More information can be found at: https://www.afgsc.af.mil/Library/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/454593/air-force-global-strike-command-air-forces-strategic-air/.