Air Force News

Vandenberg boasts four successful launches in last 48 days

Released: Jun 30, 1998

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) - Two unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched from here at 1:01 and 5:46 a.m. Wednesday as part of the Air Force's test and evaluation program.

Each missile carried three re-entry vehicles and traveled approximately 4,200 miles hitting predetermined targets in the Kwajalein Missile Range in the western chain of the Marshall Islands. This is the first Short-Time interval launch from here since 1996. It was the fourth successful missile launch in the last 48 days.

"We had two very successful launches with everything working as it was supposed to work," said Lt. Col. Jimmy Hyatt, 576th Flight Test Squadron operations officer. "It was a tremendous effort and a lot of hard work by everyone involved."

The first launch, from Launch Facility 09, was the first integration and demonstration flight for the Minuteman III Guidance Replace Program. The program is an effort to extend the service life of Minuteman through the year 2025 by modernizing guidance system electronics and developing new guidance system software.

The second launch, from Launch Facility 10, was part of Air Force Space Command's Follow-On Test and Evaluation program. This program is used to verify the accuracy and reliability of ballistic missiles.

This launch also marked the first time a U.S. Navy E-6B "Take Charge and Move Out" aircraft was used as an airborne launch control system. TACAMO replaced the U.S. Strategic Command's EC-135 aircraft.

"The EC-135 was approaching the end of its lifespan," said Maj. Larry Roberts, USSTRATCOM airborne test conductor. "They were well over 30 years old, and the cost to maintain them was to expensive."

The launches were a combined effort between the 30th Space Wing, 91st Space Wing Minot Air Force Base, N.D., 576th Flight Test Squadron and the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. (Courtesy Air Force Space Command News Service)


* Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
* Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
* Air Force Space Command
* Minuteman III