An unarmed Minuteman III test launch will occur this week from Vandenberg Space Force Base to gather information about the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile fleet.
The three-stage weapon will pop out of its underground silo on North Base sometime between 11:47 p.m. Tuesday and 5:47 a.m. Wednesday in the fourth Minuteman test of 2023.
However, it’s the first of the federal fiscal year which began Oct. 1.
Missile tests typically aim for the beginning of the six-hour window, but technical troubles, unfavorable weather and other factors can delay launches.
The military will track the weapon as it travels to a predetermined target, typically near the Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean.
Carrying a mock re-entry vehicle, or warhead, the missile test will collect data about the weapon system’s accuracy and reliability.
“The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” according to Air Force Global Strike Command.
Minuteman missile tests take place several times annually from Vandenberg, and are scheduled years in advance.
“Consistent with previous test launches, this ICBM test launch will validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system,” military officials said.
As required under the Hague Code of Conduct, the United State has issued a pre-launch notification, and alerted the Russian government in advance, per existing treaties.
The Air Force has some 400 Minuteman III missiles sitting on alert near F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Minot AFB, North Dakota and Malmstrom AFB, Montana.