United States has performed test launch of Minuteman III ICBM missile


On February 5, 2020, the U.S. Air Forces have performed a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) during a developmental test from the Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB). The LGM-30 Minuteman is a U.S. land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in service with the Air Force Global Strike Command.


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An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during a developmental test at 12:33 a.m. Pacific Time Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Picture source U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hanah Abercrombie)


A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle at 12:33 a.m. Pacific Time Feb. 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

This test was a Developmental Test Launch, which differs from routine Operational Test Launches (Glory Trips). Rather than randomly selecting a fielded ICBM to verify fleet-wide reliability, a Developmental Test Launch uses a spare missile from storage to validate flight worthiness of new or replacement components in an as-near-to operational environment as possible. Flight Test Unit 2 (FTU 2) is the second of four FTUs scheduled over the next several years to validate replacement components that will ensure continued Minuteman III viability. FTU 1 occurred in February of 2019.

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

The LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is an element of the nation's strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. The "L" in LGM is the Department of Defense designation for silo-launched; "G" means surface attack; "M" stands for guided missile, the 30 stands for the Minuteman series of missile and the G after “30” is the current Minuteman III.

The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of intercontinental range. Missiles are dispersed in hardened silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center through a system of hardened cables. Launch crews, consisting of two officers, perform around-the-clock alert in the launch control center. It has a maximum firing range of 9650 km (6,000 miles).


 

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