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Air Force Tests Boeing-built Minuteman III

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.

Link to video:

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/712576/minuteman-iii-launches-vandenberg-afb-non-narrated

The ‘Final Frontier’ is a ‘Warfighting Domain’

Science fiction met science reality Monday in the Rocket City.

And no punches were pulled when it came to discussing national defense at the 22nd Space & Missile Defense Symposium. The symposium runs through Thursday at the Von Braun Center downtown.

“It’s a very crowded environment,” said Army Lt. Gen. Jim Dickinson, commanding general of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command. It is the mission of the SMDC to “defeat, penetrate and disintegrate” our adversaries’ levels of defense and “operate and dominate a combative” space environment.

Dickinson said the Army is the largest user of space of the military branches and has some 3,000 soldiers trained. The Army’s involvement dates to the 1950s with the Redstone rocket and the launch of the Explorer I satellite in 1958 began its space involvement.

And, as we know, technology has traveled at warp speed over the last 60 years.

Maj. Gen. Rick Evans addresses the 22nd Missile & Space Defense Symposium. (Photo by Steve Babin)

“We have become increasingly reliable on space and cyber,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Evans, assistant to the commander, U.S. Strategic Command. “Space and cyber are vital to our defense.

“We must adapt to new threats and stay ahead of our adversaries.”

To counter those threats, President Trump directed the U.S. Space Command be re-established as a full military branch. But, Evans said, that doesn’t mean “SAC will be out of the space business.”

And, the Army and Air Force still have their own space commands.

The Army’s 1st Space Brigade with headquarters in Colorado Springs supports joint forces and their critical dependence on space capabilities. The Air Force Space Command is headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

“Space is a warfighting domain,” he said. “We need those commands. Almost everything we do is tied to space in some way.”

The “crowded environment” in space includes threats from Russia and China, as well as “new threats” from the likes of North Korea and Iran through missiles, satellites and directed-energy (laser) weapons.

Evans said the U.S. must be prepared to answer the challenge by focusing on agility and speed.

“We need resilient, redundant capability,” he said. “We need a rapid, reconstituting capability.

“We can’t wait five years to replace a satellite.”