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Minuteman III launch scheduled

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  • By 010910
An unarmed operational test of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is scheduled to launch from north Vandenberg Sept. 15 between 3:01 - 9:01 a.m.

The launch is one of a series of operational tests to determine the weapon system's reliability and accuracy. The missile's single unarmed re-entry vehicle is expected to travel approximately 5,300 miles, to a pre-determined target about 200 miles southwest of Guam.

A crew from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron will launch the missile from the Airborne Launch Control System under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron.

"Our airborne crews provide survivable launch capability for the nation's ICBMs by using the E-6B aircraft," said Lt. Col. Ron Allen, 625th Strategic Operations Squadron commander. "Like ICBM ground crews, ALCS officers are on alert every day of the year to execute their mission, if called upon to do so."

The 576th FLTS, who will direct the missile launch, also is responsible for installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile in order to collect data and meet safety requirements. Maintenance and operations task force personnel from the 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, N.D. and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, Offutt AFB, Neb. are conducting operational tasks supporting the launch. Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander, is the launch decision authority for this mission. Col. David Bliesner, the 576th FLTS commander, is the mission director.

Test launches are vital in ensuring the most powerful weapons in the nation's arsenal are safe, secure and effective, said Air Force Global Strike Command officials.

"Strategic deterrence and assurance of our allies depends on potential adversaries being convinced of our nation's capability to employ ICBMs if national interests are threatened," Colonel Bliesner said. "It is important to demonstrate and assess the powerful capability and performance of our ICBM fleet."

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.