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Malmstrom AFB crew launches unarmed Minuteman III missile in Cal - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Malmstrom AFB crew launches unarmed Minuteman III missile in California

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576th Flight Test Squadron monitors test launch of an unarmed Malmstrom AFB Minuteman III missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson) 576th Flight Test Squadron monitors test launch of an unarmed Malmstrom AFB Minuteman III missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)
Photo from Colonel Tom Wilcox, 341st Missile Wing Commander: "Minuteman III ignition...GT-215 Test Launch Vandenberg AFB CA" Photo from Colonel Tom Wilcox, 341st Missile Wing Commander: "Minuteman III ignition...GT-215 Test Launch Vandenberg AFB CA"
GREAT FALLS -- A team from Malmstrom Air Force Base successfully tested an unarmed Minuteman III missile early Friday morning in California. 

The missile launch took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

Air Force Global Strike Command airmen launched the intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test re-entry vehicle. 

The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron from Vandenberg, included airmen from Malmstrom. 

About 40 minutes after launch, the re-entry vehicle "impacted" in a pre-established test area in the Pacific Ocean near Guam. 

Colonel Kelvin Townsend, commander of the 576 FTS, said, "The two launches from the past week were a full team effort between the 576th, and the 90th and 341st Missile Wings. Launching multiple missiles in close proximity to each other adds an extra amount of realism to the operational test mission we fulfill here. These test launches occur due to the training and strict attention to detail our people have; resulting in a reliable test." 

The purpose of the test launches is to verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system. 

Officials say that it also provides valuable data to ensure a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent. 

The Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command will use the data collected from the launch for continuing force development evaluation. 

Lt. Colonel Daniels Hays, the Malmstrom task force commander, said, "An operational test launch requires hard work, months of preparation, and outstanding teamwork between personnel on both bases. These launches are a visible reminder to both our adversaries and our allies of the readiness and capability of the Minuteman III weapon system, and without the dedication of the men and women from both the 576th and the 341st, this test could not have happened." 

Malmstrom is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert "24-7" year-round who oversee the nation's 450 ICBMs.

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