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Supported by Huntsville, Air Force conducts 237th test of Boeing-built Minuteman III ICBM

The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday completed its first Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch of 2021, marking the 237th such maneuver since testing of the Boeing-built strategic deterrent began in August 1970.

The Minuteman III, which is managed by Boeing’s Huntsville-based Missile and Weapon Systems division, 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 more than 50 years ago, Boeing has supported every test flight of the Minuteman III, which represents the land-based prong of the United States’ nuclear triad.

The latest test, which was routine, demonstrates that America’s nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter 21st-century threats, a press release emphasized. It also underlines the nation’s continued commitment to ensuring peace through strength around the world.

Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III equipped with a test reentry vehicle at 11:49 p.m. local time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. During this test, the ICBM’s reentry vehicle reportedly traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data.

“Our nation’s ICBM fleet stands ready 24/7,” stated Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, deputy commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. “Operational tests validate our Minuteman III readiness and reliability. It further demonstrates to our citizens, our allies and our partners that men and women across three missile wings provide credible overwatch with a strategic deterrent that is safe, secure and effective.”

Watch a video of Tuesday’s test here.

Boeing’s Missile and Weapon Systems division supports the design, sustainment, maintenance and modernization of the Minuteman system. Boeing employs more than 3,000 people in the Rocket City, indispensably supporting our nation’s defense and space capabilities, as well as commercial aircraft and services work.

“Over the last year, our highly professional and dedicated team of Airmen, civilians and contractors have showcased phenomenal initiative and adaptability while continuing to run a successful ICBM test launch program despite the challenges of a world-wide pandemic,” said Air Force Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander. “Today’s launch sends a visible message of deterrence to the world, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, which includes task force members from the three ICBM wings along with key expertise and support from HQ Air Force Global Strike Command, HQ Twentieth Air Force, and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn