VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
A joint team comprised of U.S. Air Force missileers and U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury aircrew launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile above the Pacific Ocean April 26.
The operational test launch is one in a long line conducted at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, since the first Glory Trip over 40 years ago. However, Glory Trip 220 was the first time the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, initiated an airborne launch while aligned under Eighth Air Force, a unit traditionally known for ownership of the Service’s bomber fleet.
Each year, Air Force Global Strike Command randomly selects an operational missile from the field to test the safety and reliability of the nation’s ICBM weapon systems. This test also validated the reliability of the launch systems aboard the E-6B Mercury.
“Many people all over the world rely on this weapon system to deter adversaries and to protect their freedoms and way of life,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Greg Carter, a deputy missile combat crew commander airborne from the 625th STOS. “We want to show that this system is a reliable way to launch the missile from the air if the need should ever arise to use it in a real-world scenario.”
The missile’s single re-entry vehicle traveled 4,200 miles, hitting a designated site at the Ronald Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“The nation has this very powerful weapon system on alert every hour of every day to deter our adversaries from ever thinking of using the same weapons on us or our allies,” Carter said. “The American people should know that their investment in this weapon system is worthwhile to sustain the lives we enjoy in this country.”