US Air Force and Space Force conduct successful Minuteman III missile test

U.S. Space Force photo

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, on June 4, 2024.

The test launch was conducted by a joint team of the US Air Force and Space Force. The Air Force Global Strike Command said this test marks the latest in a series of over 300 similar launches and is unrelated to current global events.

“Our Strikers and our nuclear mission are the bedrock of our nation’s defense and international security,” stated General Thomas A. Bussiere, commander of the US Air Force Global Strike Command. “Our ICBM force provides 24/7 strategic deterrence, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.”

The ICBM reentry vehicle journeyed about 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) to reach the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site (RTS) on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. There, an array of sensors, from optical sensors and telemetry to radars, observed the terminal phase of flight.

U.S. Space Force video

The Minuteman III, which forms the land-based part of the US nuclear deterrence triad, was developed by Boeing and has been operational for more than 50 years, with its initial deployment occurring in June 1970.

Since 2019, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and the United States Air Force have collaborated on developing a replacement for the LGM-30 Minuteman. The upcoming LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM, which comprises the Mk21A reentry vehicle and the W87-1 nuclear warhead, is anticipated to be in use by 2029.

On November 1, 2023, a Minuteman III self-destructed during a test flight due to an undisclosed “anomaly.”

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