US Preparing To Test Minuteman III Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile From Vandenberg Air Force Base

The United States will test launch an unarmed nuclear-capable ballistic missile, the Minuteman III, on Wednesday from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

“An operational test launch of an Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5, between 12:15 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. [07:15 to 13:15 GMT] from north Vandenberg,” the base said in a press release, adding that “the purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system.”

The previous test launch of the Minutemen III was conducted in February. During the test, the re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles from the launch site at the Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The US conducts periodic test launches to check the accuracy and reliability of its ICBM system.

The three-stage land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles of the Minuteman family were originally intended for nuclear deterrence during the Cold War. The LGM-30G Minuteman III is now the only land-based ICBM in service in the United States. The missile is capable of hitting targets within a radius of about 8,100 miles.