For the third time in the last few months, the Air Force Global Strike Command has 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 12:27 a.m. local time on Thursday from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.
A release from the Space Force said that Ron Cortopassi, 30th Space Wing executive director, was the launch decision authority.
“The ICBM test launch program demonstrates our Nation’s nuclear deterrence forces are safe, secure, effective and ready to defend the United States, and Vandenberg plays an integral part in providing the capabilities necessary to meet those test objectives,” stated Cortopassi. “Even in times of global pandemic, our Airmen are able to provide the range support required to safely test an ICBM launch.”
Further details on this test were not provided in the release; it was the fourth one this year.
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