AFGSC Tests Minuteman III Missile with Launch from Vandenberg
(Source: Air Force Global Strike Command; issued May 09, 2019)
BARKSDALE AFB, La. --- For the second time in just over a week, a team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle on May 9, 2019 at 12:40 a.m. Pacific Time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The test demonstrates the United States’ nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, ready and appropriately tailored to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.

The ICBM's reentry vehicle, which contained a high-fidelity package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

“These ICBM professionals always make the difficult look easy! This culminates months of effort that began in the missile fields where they removed this hardware from its alert mission, cataloged every piece and part, and shipped it to California for this test,” said Col. Dave Kelley, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “This wouldn’t have happened without the tireless efforts of personnel from the 90th Missile Wing, the 576th Flight Test Squadron, the 30th Space Wing and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.”

F.E. Warren AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24 hours a day, year-round, overseeing the nation’s ICBM alert forces.

“The opportunity for a Task Force to execute multiple launches in a week doesn’t happen very often, and this has been a tremendous experience for our team,” said Maj. Travis Hilliard, 90 MW Task Force Commander. “Ultimately, these launches demonstrate America's capability to deter our adversaries and assure our allies through a safe, secure and effective ICBM force."

The ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command uses data collected from test launches for continuing force development evaluation. The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational capability of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

The launch calendars are built three to five years in advance, and planning for each individual launch begins six months to a year prior to launch.

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USS Rhode Island Successfully Tests Trident II D5 Missile
(Source: U.S. Navy; issued May 09, 2019)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. --- The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) along with the U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) conducted a successful test flight of one unarmed Trident II D5 missile, May 9.

This launch marked the 172nd successful test flight of the Trident II D5 missile since its introduction to the fleet in 1989.

This test flight was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO 29. The primary objective of a DASO is to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN's strategic weapon system and crew before operational deployment following its engineered refueling overhaul (ERO).

“I’m incredibly proud of Team King’s Bay and the Rhode Island crew. They’ve spent the last nine months preparing for this test and the patrols that will follow. Because of their hard work and dedication, our sea-based deterrent remains the most survivable and reliable in the world,” said Rear Adm. Michael Bernacchi, Commander, Submarine Group 10.

Rhode Island completed its ERO in August 2018. An ERO is a complex, major shipyard availability during which the submarine is refueled and upgraded before returning to support the country’s nuclear deterrence strategy. This ERO extended the life of Rhode Island for more than 20 years.

EROs play a critical role in the future of the U.S. Navy’s submarine force. EROs extend the life of the aging 14 Ohio-class submarines in the Navy’s fleet, scheduled to be replaced by 12 Columbia-class submarines, with the first initial deterrent patrol in 2031.

"USS Rhode Island’s successful test flight today demonstrates not only that this ship’s crew and shipboard weapons system are ready to return to service, but also that the sea-based leg of our nuclear deterrent remains ready, reliable and credible,” said Capt. Mark Behning, deputy director, SSP.

“While we’ve demonstrated today that our efforts to extend the life of our existing D5 missiles and SSBNs are successful, it is imperative that we remain focused on the Navy’s number one priority: on-time delivery of the first Colombia-class submarine,” said Behning.

SSP, along with Naval Ordnance Test Unit, oversees the DASO certification process and provides integrated testing and evaluation capabilities, while various other organizations provide support.

Ohio-class SSBNs carry up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and provide the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. The design allows the submarines to operate for 15 years or more between major overhauls. The Columbia-class submarine will not need to be refueled during its lifetime.

Rhode Island is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name and was commissioned July 9, 1994. Assigned to Submarine Group 10, Rhode Island is one of five ballistic-missile submarines homeported at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.

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