Airmen with the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on Wednesday successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM out over the Pacific Ocean during an operational test of the weapon system. The missile’s single reentry test vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to a pre-determined touchdown point near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Defense Department and Energy Department analysts will now go over the flight data. “The data gained from these launches allows us to maintain a high readiness capability and ensures operational effectiveness of the most powerful weapons in the nation’s arsenal,” said Col. David Bliesner, commander of Vandy’s 576th Flight Test Squadron. Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., and 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., supported the test, which occurred within the established time window despite some issues that arose like inclement weather downrange. (Vandenberg release)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.