The Air Force Global Strike Command held a flight test today of the Boeing-built Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.
The unarmed ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., by an Air Force launch crew at Malmstrom AFB, Mont. The ICBM’s re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“The flight test program demonstrates one part of the operational capability of the ICBM weapon system,” said Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “The Minuteman III is nearly 50 years old, and continued test launches are essential in ensuring its reliability until the mid-2030s when the Ground Base Strategic Deterrent is fully in place.
“Most importantly, this visible message of national security serves to assure our partners and dissuade potential aggressors.”
Boeing and the Air Force finalized a $122.9 million contract to upgrade the Minuteman III ICBM coding system, bringing more work to Huntsville.
Some development and assembly work will be performed here at Boeing’s Electronics Center of Excellence, which recently underwent a 28,000 square-foot expansion. The upgrade will provide remote, over-the-air rekey and code change capability for the missile system.
The contract will provide the government with the components needed to support the deployment of the ICU II hardware through 2022 — sustaining the Huntsville-based Minuteman III ICBM weapon system until 2036.
Boeing has supported every Minuteman flight test in the last 58 years. Boeing built the nation’s Minuteman missile for theAir Force in the early 1960s and continues to sustain the program to keep it safe, secure and reliable.
The Minuteman III is as fast as a seismic wave, traveling up to four miles per second and up to 15,000 mph.
The test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is robust, flexible, ready and appropriately tailored to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies, the Air Force said in a release. Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.
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