For the second time in just four weeks, the Air Force Global Strike Command has successfully tested a Boeing-built Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The Minuteman III, which is managed by Boeing in Huntsville, is as fast as a seismic wave, traveling up to four miles per second and up to 15,000 miles per hour.
Since the program first went on alert in August 1970, Boeing has supported every test flight of the Minuteman III ICBM, which represents the land-based prong of the United States’ nuclear triad.
Equipped with mock warheads, an unarmed Minuteman III was launched at 12:03 a.m. local time on Wednesday from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Per a release from the Air Force, “The test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.”
“This operational test launch is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation that involve multiple partners,” stated Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander. “I couldn’t be more impressed with the team that we partner with to successfully execute this mission. The men and women from the 90th, 91st and 341st Missile Wings, 576th FLTS, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and the 30th Space Wing here at Vandenberg, among other mission partners, made this look easy, but it was far from that. Our phenomenal results are a testament to the dedication and professionalism of these proud organizations, and their hard work sends a visible message of deterrence to the world.”
This summer marked the 50th anniversary that the Minuteman has been on ready alert. The Rocket City-managed Minuteman missile is one of the longest-running, successful programs in Boeing history and is a major boost to Alabama’s economy.
Boeing continues modernizing parts of the existing ICBM fleet, including by adding the ability to remotely update launch codes at all 450 missile silos. The circuit cards for this important upgrade are manufactured in North Alabama at Boeing’s Huntsville Electronic Center of Excellence.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn