ICBM test planned for pre-dawn Wednesday

Air Force Global Strike Command has scheduled an operational test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile between 12:01 and 6:01 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The tests, conducted roughly four times annually, are to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system, according to AFGSC.

This week, the 90th Missile Wing out of F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming will be conducting test launch. This is the fourth launch since the beginning of the calendar year; but AFGSC schedules four launches per fiscal year and this will be the fourth and final launch for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, according to AFGSC.

The test comes on the heels of an ICBM test launch by North Korea, but AFGSC regularly conducts such tests.

In May, a team from Malmstrom AFB traveled to Vandenberg to conduct a test launch with a missile pulled from the Malmstrom missile complex.

The tests are a coordinated effort between AFGSC and the 576th Flight Test Squadron of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg.

“Team V is postured to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to test
launch the Minuteman III missile,” said Col. Michael Hough, 30th Space Wing commander, the launch decision authority. “Our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron shows that the Western Range stands ready and able to create a safe launch environment.”

The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking,
telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.

On Monday, defense officials said that North Korea’s July 28 ICBM test launch missile traveled about 620 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan about 103 miles from the coast of Hokkaido, Japan.

Shortly after the missile landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the U.S. Eighth Army and South Korean army personnel conducted a combined live fire exercise, according to the Pentagon. The exercise utilized the Army tactical missile system and the South Korean Hyunmoo Missile-2, which fired two missiles each into territorial waters of South Korea along the east coast.

American B-1B bombers under Pacific Air Forces have also joined with counterparts from the South Korean and Japanese air forces in sequenced bilateral missions, the Pentagon said Monday.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency also conducted a test over the weekend of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. A medium-range target ballistic missile was air-launched by a U.S. C-17 over the Pacific Ocean and the THAAD system located in Kodiak, Alaska detected, tracked and intercepted the target, the Pentagon said Monday.

That was the 15th successful intercept in 15 tests for THAAD, according to the Pentagon.