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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 12:54 am | Fog/Mist 47º


Vandenberg Reports 2nd Successful Minuteman Launch

Crews at Vandenberg Air Force Base ended the work week as they started it — by conducting a test-launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.

This week's second unarmed ICBM blasted out of its underground silo on North Base at 3:53 a.m. Friday.

"We constantly focus on the flawless execution of our launch, landing and range missions. Today an outstanding display of teamwork ensured 100-percent mission completion,” said Col. Shane Clark, 30th Space Wing vice commander who served as the launch decision authority. "It's always a privilege to partner with Air Force Global Strike Command to demonstrate the capabilities of our ICBM fleet and crew force, especially with two test launches in less than a week."

The military tracked the weapon’s mock warhead as it impacted in a pre-established test area in the Pacific Ocean, near the island of Guam, approximately 40 minutes after launch.

Another Minuteman test occurred early Monday from the base.

The Air Force conducts the Minuteman test launches to verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. 

The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, at Vandenberg, included airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana.

A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile heads skyward early Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo)

“An operational test launch requires hard work, months of preparation, and outstanding teamwork between personnel on both bases,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Hays, the 341st Missile Wing Task Force Commander.  “These launches are a visible reminder to both our adversaries and our allies of the readiness and capability of the Minuteman III weapon system, and without the dedication of the men and women from both the 576th and the 341st, this test could not have happened.”

Monday’s test involved airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

The two launches involved “a full team effort” between the 576th, and the 90th and 341st Missile Wings, Col. Kelvin Townsend, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, noted. 

“Launching multiple missiles in close proximity to each other adds an extra amount of realism to the operational test mission we fulfill here,” Townsend said. “These test launches occur due to the training and strict attention to detail our people have; resulting in a reliable test.”

The Montana and Wyoming installations are two of three missile bases with crew members standing alert around the clock, overseeing the nation’s fleet of 450 ICBMs.

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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