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Vandenberg team launches Minuteman III

by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy
30th Space Wing Public Affairs

2/7/2007 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNEWS)  -- An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from North Vandenberg Feb. 7 at 12:14 a.m.

"This program is key to our constant assessment of the reliability of our ICBM fleet," said Brig. Gen. C. Donald Alston, director of Air Force Space Command's Air, Space and Information Operations. "Every successful test validates the readiness of this bedrock of America's nuclear deterrent force. It says a lot about the missile crews, maintainers and supporting agencies that are out in the missile fields 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year protecting our nation."

The launch was part of an operational test to determine the weapon system's reliability and accuracy.

The missile's single unarmed re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles before hitting its pre-determined target at the Reagan Test Site on the Marshall Islands. The Minuteman missile from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., was pulled randomly from the ICBM missile field there and transported to Vandenberg where it was configured under conditions similar to a real-world missile launch from one of the many missile silos located throughout the United States.

The data collected will be used by the entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

The reliability and accuracy of the data also will be used by U.S. Strategic Command planners.

"While it can seem routine, each launch test requires considerable time and effort from the 200-plus Airmen in the 576th Flight Test Squadron," said Lt. Col. S. L. Davis, 576th FLTS commander, the mission director for this launch. "As a result, USSTRATCOM planners will be able to more effectively employ the nation's ICBM force should it be required."

"An outstanding display of teamwork ensured 100-percent mission success for the first west coast launch of the year," said Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander, who served the spacelift commander. "We constantly focus on flawless execution of our launch, range and expeditionary missions. I am extremely proud of the collaboration between the 30th SW and the 576th FLTS."

(Additional information provided by AFSPC Public Affairs)

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