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Air Force showcases nuclear readiness in Huntsville-supported, Boeing-built Minuteman III ICBM test launch

The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday conducted this year’s second test launch of its Boeing-built Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The purpose of the operational test was to demonstrate the readiness of the nation’s nuclear forces.

The Minuteman III is a product of Boeing’s Huntsville-based Missile and Weapon Systems division.

Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test re-entry vehicle from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base. According to the AFGSC, the launch was a show of strength to provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of U.S. nuclear deterrence.

The Air Force says that the goal of the test launch is to verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing crucial data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

“The U.S. nuclear enterprise is the cornerstone of the security structure of the free world,” said Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander. “Today’s test launch is just one example of how our nation’s ICBM fleet demonstrates operational readiness and reliability of the weapon system. It also allows us to showcase the amazing level of competence and capability of our Airmen.”

Boeing has supported every test flight of the Minuteman III since the program’s inception more than 50 years ago. The ICBM is a critical facet of the U.S. Nuclear Triad, which holds the capacity to launch a nuclear offensive from land, air and sea. The U.S. Space Force released a video of the unarmed test launch, which resulted in the detonation of a non-nuclear warhead.

The test is yet another example of how the aerospace juggernaut’s Rocket City-based operations, which employs more than 3,000 Alabamians, plays a critical role in supporting the nation’s space and defense objectives.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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