‘Anomaly’ Prompts Air Force to Destroy Minuteman III Shortly After Vandenberg Launch

Minuteman III launch
A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in 2017. File photo via Reuters

The Air Force blew up a Minuteman III missile over the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday after an “anomaly” was detected following its launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base near Santa Barbara.

Officials with the Global Strike Command said the launch team “safely terminated an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean at 12:06 a.m. Pacific time Nov. 1 due to an anomaly during a test launch.”

The Air Force did not elaborate but said it was forming a launch analysis group to investigate.

“The command learns lessons from every test launch,” Capt. Lauren Linscott said in a statement. “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 nuclear-armed Minuteman III, made by Boeing, is key to the U.S. strategic arsenal. The missile has a range of 6,000-plus miles and can travel at 15,000 miles per hour.

Some 400 of the missiles are stationed in underground silos at Air Force bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.

The Air Force routinely tests the force by launching randomly selected missiles from Vandenberg.

A successor to the aging Minuteman, the LGM-35A Sentinel, is scheduled for initial capability in 2029.

Reuters contributed to this article.