Officials launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile early in the morning on Aug. 19. The test launch at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., came exactly 45 years after the Air Force put the first Minuteman III missiles on alert, according to Air Force Global Strike Command. The missile was randomly selected from Minot AFB, N.D., and airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot worked with members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron and the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg for the test. The missile was launched at 3:03 a.m. Pacific time and impacted in the planned test area about 4,200 miles away, in the Pacific Ocean near the Kwajalein Atoll. The Air Force schedules a few launches each year to test the reliability and accuracy of the weapons. Gen. Robin Rand, the new AFGSC commander, traveled to California for the launch, and said the test sends a message to America’s allies and adversaries. “I’m truly impressed by the knowledge, the skills, and the teamwork that our airmen demonstrated during this test launch,” he said.
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.