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Minuteman III test launch scheduled

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An unarmed operational test of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is scheduled to launch between 3:01 and 9:01 a.m. June 22 from north Vandenberg.

The missile's single unarmed re-entry vehicle is expected to travel approximately 4,200 miles to a pre-determined target near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

"Minuteman III test launches demonstrate our nation's ICBM capability in a very visible way, deterring potential adversaries while reassuring allies," said Col. David Bliesner, 576th FLTS commander and mission director. "These launches provide valuable information on the missile's effectiveness in its intended operational environment."

Under the direction of the 576th FLTS, the launch team includes crew members from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, who will launch the missile from the Airborne Launch Control System, in addition to maintenance and operations task force members from the 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, N.D., who will conduct operational tasks in support of the launch. Col. Keith Balts, the 30th Space Wing vice commander, is the launch decision authority for this mission.

The 576 FLTS is responsible for installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile which collect data and ensure safety requirements are met.

The launch is one of a series of ICBM operational tests and is vital to ensuring the nation's most powerful weapons are safe, secure and effective, said Air Force Global Strike Command officials.

The entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, will use the data collected from this mission for continuing force development evaluation.