Fireworks on America’s West Coast? No, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launch initiated by a “doomsday plane”

On Nov. 14 at 03:07 AM LT, the Air Force Global Strike Command has launched a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a simulated reentry vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

“The purpose of the launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system,” according to Air Force Global Strike Command officials.

Noteworthy, an E-6 Mercury plane took an active part to the launch. Acting as an Airborne Command Post, the “doomsday” plane initiated the launch using the Airborne Launch Control System.

Under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, the launch team included crew members from the 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and crew members from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, Offutt AFB, Neb., both on board the E-6B aircraft.

[Read also: The mysterious missile launch off the California coast]

The Minuteman III ICBM is 60 ft in length 5 ft 6 in. diameter a top speed of 15,000 mph and a range of more than 6,000 miles. It can carry three Mk-12 or Mk-12A warheads.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.