The US Air Force conducted its latest test of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on 24 February 2021. A nuclear-capable rocket was launched from Vandenberg, California, to a missile range in Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, covering about 6,800 km.
The US Air Force ensures these launches do not correspond to world events or regional tensions. As the preparation and planning of such launches is planned six to twelve months before they take place. And launch plans are planned up to five years in advance.
This was the first test since the Biden administration extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia. Which restricts the size of each nation’s nuclear stockpile.
Everything you need to know about Minuteman 3 ICBM
- The missile was named after the colonial Minutemen of the American Revolutionary War, who were ready to fight in a short time.
- Minuteman’s intercontinental missile (ICBM) has been active since 1962. And is the foremost sensitive element of the US nuclear deterrent triad by remaining safe, secure and effective.
- Boeing has been working with the US Air Force since 1958 to design, manufacture, deploy. And maintain the reliable Minuteman fleet.
- The missile propels from its silo by firing its first stage booster motor (A).
- About 60 seconds after launch, the primary stage drops off and therefore the second stage motor (B) ignites. The missile shroud (E) is ejected.
- About 120 seconds after launch, the third stage motor (C) ignites and detaches itself from the second stage.
- About 180 seconds after launch, the third stage thrust terminates and therefore the post-boosting vehicle (D) separates from the rocket.
- The Post-Boost Vehicle maneuvers itself and prepares for the deployment of a new vehicle (RV).
- The RVs, as well as decoys and chaff, are used backward.
- The RVs and Chaff return to the atmosphere at high speeds and are armed in flight.
- Nuclear warheads detonate either as air or ground bursts.
Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD)
On 29 July 2016, the US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center built the next generation nuclear ICBM systems. It will be Minuteman 3 ICBM successor. The deployment of GBSD is expected to begin in 2027 and will remain in service until 2075.
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