US Air Force blows up Minuteman III in test flight after post-launch anomaly

(Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday it had blown up a Minuteman III missile over the Pacific Ocean after an anomaly was detected following its launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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,” Captain Lauren Linscott said in a written statement. “Gathering data from the launch allows (Air Force Global Strike Command)to identify and correct any issues with the weapon system to ensure the Minuteman III’s continued reliability and accuracy.”

The nuclear-capable Minuteman III, made by Boeing Co, is key to the U.S. military’s strategic arsenal. The missile has a range of 6,000-plus miles (9,660-plus km) and can travel at a speed of about 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph).

About 400 of the missiles are located at Air Force bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Mike Stone; Editing by Richard Chang)