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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 9:57 pm | Fair 52º


Test Launch of Minuteman III Missile Scheduled for Early Monday at Vandenberg AFB

A test launch of a Minuteman III missile carrying a mock warhead is scheduled for early Monday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

The Air Force Global Strike Command weapon is set to blast out of its underground silo on the northern segment of the base between 1:21 a.m. and 7:21 a.m., officials said.

The military plans to track the lone mock warhead as it travels 4,200 miles to a predetermined target near the Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean. 

Unfavorable weather or technical troubles either at Vandenberg or downrange can delay missile tests.

Although the Western Range at Vandenberg approves launch dates and issues safety notices, Vandenberg public affairs representatives on Friday morning referred questions to officials at Louisiana-based Global Strike Command, where a representative said Vandenberg would provide the information about the test. Late Friday afternoon, Vandenberg officials confirmed the scheduled launch and planned window.

A task force from the 576th Flight Test Squadron — which is based at Vandenberg — installed test-unique equipment on the weapon while a task force from the base with missiles on alert handled other chores related to the launch

Global Strike Command oversees the 400 Minuteman III weapon systems on alert around the clock near three bases — Malmstrom AFB in Montana, Minot AFB in North Dakota and F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming. 

For decades, Vandenberg has conducted multiple ICBM tests that have been scheduled on manifest prepared years in advance and are not in response to real-world situations.

Preparation for a specific tests typically begin six months to a year ahead of time with a weapon randomly selected for those sitting on alert.

Air Force officials say 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.

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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