Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Northrop ICBM Team in Test Launch of Minuteman III

The Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Prime Team, led by Northrop Grumman Corporation participated in an Air Force Global Strike Command flight test of an operational Minuteman III ICBM launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on June 22, 2011.

Designated Glory Trip 204GM, the launch proceeded as planned with the missile traveling some 4,800 miles in about 30 minutes. The Minuteman III carried a single re-entry vehicle that was specially instrumented to measure various performance parameters.

The re-entry vehicle landed on target in a pre-designated area within the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site near Kwajalein Atoll in the western chain of the Marshall Islands. The launch was supported by personnel from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., which removed the missile from the alert force.

"The expertise the Air Force ICBM System Program Office and prime contractor team has developed during 40 years of maintaining the integrity of Minuteman and its complex support system was evident once again in this test," said Tony Spehar, vice president and program manager for the ICBM Prime Integration Contract (IPIC). "The team continues to use this expertise to enhance the command and control, nuclear safety, and extraordinary physical security required, while maintaining the high on-alert availability and reliability the system requires."

Operational test launches assess and demonstrate the effectiveness of the weapon system. The ICBM Prime Team delivers information regarding site selection for test assets and reviews flight test hardware configuration. Prime Team activities are performed before, during and after each ICBM test launch in partnership with the ICBM Systems Program Office at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, which strives to obtain as much performance information as possible to analyze and evaluate the health of the Minuteman weapon system.

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