The Air Force is expected to conduct an operational test launch of a Minuteman III ICBM on Thursday from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. If the mission goes off as scheduled, it will be the second MM III operational test in five days. On Sept. 22, an unarmed MM III lifted off from Vandy, according to an Air Force Global Strike Command release. During these tests, the missiles head westward over the Pacific Ocean to the Reagan test site in the Kwajalein Atoll. “The invaluable data we collect helps us to validate the functionality and performance of system components,” said Col. Lance Kawane, Vandy’s 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. Members of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., and 90th MW at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., supported the Sept. 22 launch.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.