Although North Korea’s missile tests tend to garner the most attention, every nation with an arsenal of ballistic missiles must occasionally conduct test launches to ensure their equipment remains functional and the personnel assigned to operating the missile platforms are well-trained in what it takes to execute a launch.  The United States, of course, is no exception.

In recent weeks, the United States conducted two long-range, nuclear capable, ballistic missile test launches intended to demonstrate America’s ability to launch a nuclear warhead and impact any target on the face of the earth.

The first test launch was executed on Wednesday, April 26th.  This test included a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile that was launched using the Airborne Launch Control System, or ALCS, on-board a Navy E-6B Mercury jet.  In other words, the launch was executed via commands provided by airborne personnel, flying high above the launch facility.

“This test launch showcased a mission that touched almost every aspect of the 625th STOS (Strategic Operations Squadron),” said Maj. Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, Eighth Air Force commander. “From the targeting package on the missile, to the systems that simulate the flight of the projectile, to the launch track and range safety coordinates, to the training that prepared the team and the ALCS operators that provided the key turn, this truly was a demonstration of a small squadron providing a monumental impact on testing the reliability of our system.”