An unarmed Minuteman III missile roared to life at Vandenberg Air Force Base late Tuesday night in a test of the 50-year-old weapon as the military works to develop a next-generation system which will include a role for the Central Coast.
The three-stage weapon with a mock warhead blasted out of an underground silo on North Base at 11:49 p.m., days after the military released an environmental assessment analyzing a proposed replacement’s testing program. Plans calls for testing of new missiles and training their crews at Vandenberg.
The military tracked the weapon as it traveled some 4,200 miles to a predetermined target near the Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean.
“This first launch of the year demonstrates our ability to provide safe, secure range operations to our launch partners while maintaining a continuous state of readiness,” said Col. Joseph Tringe, 30th Space Wing individual mobilization augmentee to the commander.
“The outstanding teamwork of the Airmen and Guardians here at Vandenberg is a true testament to the future of space operations on the Western Range and our ability to defend the United States and our allies,” Tringe added.
Members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg also play a key role in ICBM missions including adding test-unique equipment.