Vandenberg to conduct first Minuteman III missile test launch of the year after delays

Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy/U.S. Air Force
·2 min read

After delays due to global tensions, the first Minuteman III missile test of the year reportedly will take place late Thursday night or early Friday morning at Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc.

The test of the unarmed weapon was planned between 11:46 p.m. Wednesday to 6:33 a.m. Thursday, according to a notice warning pilots to remain out of the area.

Another notice, revised Wednesday afternoon to reflect a 24-hour delay, told boaters to remain off the ocean area between 9:01 p.m. Thursday to 6:37 a.m. Friday.

Advisories initially pinpointed the test launch would take place late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, but the reason for the delay isn’t known and military officials were mum.

For the test, the three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile will pop out of an underground silo on North Base and travel to a pre-planned target in the central Pacific Ocean.

Vandenberg Public Affairs Office staff hung up the phone multiple times when Noozhawk called to ask about the launch, and then let the calls go to the answering machines.

A public affairs representative with the Louisiana-based Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the land-based nuclear weapons fleet, referred a reporter to Vandenberg’s Public Affairs Chief Robin Ghormley saying she was the lead person for questions about the test.

However, when reached by cellphone Ghormley asked, “Did you try Global Strike?” then claimed the phone call was breaking up and ended the call. She claimed she would call back once she arrived at her office.

Vandenberg officials typically announce missile tests and other launches ahead of time along with notifying other nations so the launch isn’t mistaken for an attack.

Additionally, that notification serves to alert Central Coast residents who may mistake the rattling windows for an earthquake.

The Air Force typically conducts several Minuteman tests each year from Vandenberg to collect data about the weapon system’s accuracy and reliability.

Some 400 Minuteman weapons sit on alert in and around Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.

A Minuteman III test was scheduled for earlier this year at Vandenberg but Pentagon officials said it was called off due to global tensions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Missile tests, like the one planned this week, are scheduled years ahead of time with work starting months before and are not a reaction to worldwide events.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com . Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk , @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz . Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook .