North Dakota Delegation Represented at Minuteman III Launch at Vandenberg Space Force Base

Nov 9, 2023
Written by: Minot Area Development Corporation

Minot Area Chamber EDC (MACEDC) Task Force 21 led a delegation of North Dakota officials on a strategic military engagement with Minot Air Force Base (MAFB) and Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) to the 377 Test and Evaluation Group at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.


The visit included mission briefs, meeting with military leadership, and the test launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that was pulled from North Dakota’s missile complex and transported to Vandenberg Space Force Base for the test. The 20-member delegation included Department of Commerce Commissioner Josh Teigen, City of Minot Mayor Tom Ross, Legislators and MACEDC leadership. The launch was also attended by South Korean defense officials.
“The missile launch test exercise helps solidify ND’s position as one of the United States’ most strategic military powers for peace in the world,” shared Josh Teigen, North Dakota Department of Commerce Commissioner. “The Minot Air Force Base is the gold standard for military excellence, and this exercise sends a clear message to our global adversaries that ND and the United States stand ready to feed, fuel, and defend the world. Immense gratitude to our service men and women for the work they do every day to further global stability, you make ND proud.”


The test launch is part of a routine and periodic activity intended to demonstrate that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. Such tests have occurred more than 300 times. The test launch program helps the command evaluate the Minuteman III ICBM and gather data to keep the system effective. The command learns lessons from every test launch. Gathering data from the launch allows AFGSC to identify and correct any issues with the weapon system to ensure the Minuteman III’s continued reliability and accuracy.


The unarmed Minuteman II ICBM was safely terminated by Space Launch Delta 30 Nov. 1 over the Pacific Ocean due to an anomaly during the test launch. More information can be found at: Minuteman III test provides vital data before termination > Air Force Global Strike Command AFSTRAT-AIR > Article Display


“The LGM-35A Sentinel will replace the Minuteman III ICBM with an initial capability of 2029. Until full capability is achieved in the mid-2030s, the Air Force is committed to ensuring Minuteman III remains a viable deterrent,” according to an AFGSC release.


“North Dakota understands the importance of supporting military, and this engagement allowed leaders from across the state an opportunity to come together to learn more about ND’s unique role in protecting the nation and the work ahead to support the full transition from Minuteman III missiles to Sentinel,” shared Brekka Kramer, President | CEO of Minot Area Chamber EDC. “Minot will be the third and last Air Force Base to receive Sentinel and will be operating the Minuteman III ICBM until the new weapon system is in place. This a major modernization project we need to support at all levels and see all the way through.”


Minot Air Force Base is home to two major Air Force units: the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing, which are Air Force Global Strike Command units. Minot is the only dual-wing nuclear-capable base in the nation, hosting two legs of the nuclear triad with a fleet of B-52H Stratofortress bombers and Minuteman III missiles. As one of the Air Force’s three operational intercontinental ballistic missile units, the 91st Missile Wing, whose members are known as the Rough Riders, are responsible for strategic deterrence by operation, maintaining and securing a fleet of 150 Minuteman III missile located in underground launch facilities positioned in a 8,500 square mile missile complex located in the northwest part of the state of North Dakota.


Air Force Global Strike Command is a major command with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, in the Shreveport-Bossier City community. The command overseas the nation’s three intercontinental ballistic missile wings, the Air Force’s entire bomber force, to include B-52, B-1 and B-2 wings, the B-21 Bomber program, Air Force Nuclear Command, Control and Communications systems, and operational and maintenance support to organizations within the nuclear enterprise. Approximately 33,700 professionals are assigned to two Numbered Air Forces, nine wings, two geographically-separated squadrons and one detachment in the continental United States and deployed to locations around the globe.


More information can be found at: https://www.afgsc.af.mil/About/Fact-Sheets/Article/454593/air-force-global-strike-command-air-forces-strategic-air/.

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