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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 3:21 pm | Fair 69º


Minuteman 3 Missile Tested in Morning Launch from Vandenberg AFB

The year’s first test of a unarmed Minuteman 3 missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Tuesday morning after a four-hour delay.

The three-stage weapon blasted out of an underground silo on North Base at 7:45 a.m. before the weapon traveled some 4,200 miles in about 20 minutes to a predetermined target near the Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean.

"An outstanding display of teamwork ensured 100-percent mission success for the first Minuteman launch of the year here at Vandenberg," said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander.
"We constantly focus on flawless execution of our launch, range and expeditionary missions."

The missile's departure had a top-level audience as Secretary of the Air Force  Deborah Lee James visited Vandenberg to observe the test. 

A high marine layer over the Santa Maria Valley shrouded the departure of the missile although its rumble could be heard Tuesday morning.

The test occurred four hours into the six-hour window due to an unplanned hold blamed on unfavorable weather downrange.

The 576th Flight Test Squadron, located at Vandenberg, oversaw preparations for the test with assistance from members of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota.

Santa Barbara-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation criticized the timing of the test which came three days before the official UN Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Sept. 26. 

“That the U.S. has chosen this week to test — at a time of heightened tensions with Russia and the one day of the year dedicated to the total abolition of nuclear weapons —says it all. Instead of taking seriously its international legal obligations to negotiate for nuclear disarmament, the U.S. seems content to engage in a tit-for-tat nuclear arms race with Russia, “ said Rick Wayman, director of peace pperations at NAPF. “This Minuteman 3 test is nothing more than the flexing of a horribly dangerous, unusable and totally unnecessary muscle.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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