The Air Force launched a Minuteman III ICBM with three unarmed multiple independent reentry vehicles on a trajectory of 4,220 nautical miles to hit targets in the Pacific Ocean.
The ICBM launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., lifting off from North Vandenberg in an operational test to determine its reliability and accuracy, the Air Force said.
That ICBM was configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, test assembly. Data collected in the test will be used by the entire ICBM community, including Strategic Command planners and NNSA and Department of Energy laboratories.
In this test, the Air Force returned to a practice that had been discontinued years ago.
“The unique part of this mission was the incorporation of a maintenance task force from an operational missile wing,” said Capt. Steve Bonin, launch director for the mission.
Operational tasks were conducted by maintenance and operations Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Mont.
In the past, maintenance teams from missile wings supported the missile testing mission here; however, the program was discontinued several years ago. This mission marks a return to this model in which the maintenance task force has the opportunity to perform jobs unique to test operations while validating the work they perform at their home base.
“For me, the unique part of this launch was seeing all the moving pieces coming together,” Bonin said. “We had maintenance and operations teams from up north working together with us in the squadron; the coordination we did with the 30th Space Wing who manages the range; as well as the Army and the Navy who supported the mission downrange.”
Members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile to collect data and meet safety requirements.