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Minuteman III test launch showcases readiness of U.S. nuclear force's safe, effective deterrent

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  • Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

A joint team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen and 30th Space Launch Delta Guardians launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with three test re-entry vehicles Sept. 6 at 1:26 a.m. Pacific Time from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

This test launch is part of routine and periodic activities intended to demonstrate that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. Such tests have occurred over 300 times before, and this test is not the result of current world events.

“The men and women of Air Force Global Strike Command comprise two-thirds of our nation’s nuclear triad, and they stand constant vigil to ensure our national defense,” said Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, commander, Air Force Global Strike Command. “Test launches validate our deterrence capabilities to the American public and to our allies. The missile community is comprised of our country’s finest Airmen, and I have no doubt in their ability to support our most important mission across the Department of Defense.”

The ICBM's reentry vehicles 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.

“The U.S. nuclear enterprise is the cornerstone of security for the freedom of the American people and our allies around the world,” said Col. Chris Cruise, 377th Test and Evaluation Group Commander. “This test launch sends a visible message of deterrence on behalf of our joint forces and global partners, and I couldn’t be prouder of the professionalism of the Airmen and Guardians who comprise this mission.”

The test launch is a culmination of months of preparation that involve multiple government partners. The Airmen and Guardians who perform this vital mission are some of the most skillfully trained and educated the Air and Space Forces have to offer.

Airmen from across the Twentieth Air Force were selected for the task force to support the test launch, and the 90th Missile Wing from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, provided maintenance support. The missile bases within Air Fore Global Strike Command have crew members standing alert 24 hours a day, year-round, overseeing the nation’s ICBM alert forces. 

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.

Air Force Global Strike Command is a major command with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, in the Shreveport-Bossier City community. The command overseas the nation's three intercontinental ballistic missile wings, the Air Force’s entire bomber force, to include B-52, B-1 and B-2 wings, the Long Range Strike Bomber program, Air Force Nuclear Command, Control and Communications systems, and operational and maintenance support to organizations within the nuclear enterprise. Approximately 33,700 professionals are assigned to two Numbered Air Forces, nine wings, two geographically-separated squadrons and one detachment in the continental United States and deployed to locations around the globe. More information can be found at:

The LG-35A Sentinel will replace the Minuteman III ICBM with an initial capability of 2029. Until full capability is achieved in the mid-2030s, the Air Force is committed to ensuring Minuteman III remains a viable deterrent.

For questions regarding the launch window or Vandenberg SFB range operations, contact 30th Space Launch Delta Public Affairs at 805-606-3595 or

For queries regarding the ICBM test launch mission and missile, contact AFGSC Public Affairs at 318-456-1305 (After Hours 318-532-1215) or