Unarmed Missile Destroyed After Vandenberg Launch

The missile was approaching a target in the Pacific Ocean

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Wednesday, Jul 27, 2011  |  Updated 12:19 PM PDT
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U.S. Air Force photo /Joe Davila

A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile successfully launches Nov. 5 from North Vandenberg.

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An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile was destroyed minutes after launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to military officials.

The missile was launched from an underground silo for a test flight at about 3 a.m., Wednesday. It was destroyed five minutes later because of safety concerns, the Associated Press reported.

The missile was approaching a target in the Kwajalein Atoll area in the Pacific Ocean. Controllers detected a "flight anomaly," according to a news release from Air Force officials.

"At all times public safety is paramount," said Col. Matthew Carroll, 30th Space Wing chief of safety. "We plan for situations like this and everything was executed according to the plan."

The launch of the Minuteman III was intended to test the weapon system's reliability and accuracy. Air Force officials are investigating.

The problem is the second involving a Minuteman III test in five weeks at Vandenberg Air Force Base. On June 22, an unarmed Minuteman III was launched on a test flight to the Marshall Islands atoll, but a communications problem forced the launch command to be issued by ground control rather than an airborne launch control system.

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