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Airmen conduct an operational test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile Sept. 23, 2014, from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Air Force photo by Joe Davila.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on Sept. 23. The test flight traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to an Air Force release. Airmen from the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg and the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., helped execute the test launch, which helps the Air Force gauge accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapons system and evaluate the security of the US’ nuclear deterrent capability. Such tests also benefit the broader Defense Department community, as well as the Department of Energy, and US Strategic Command, as they continue to evaluate force development, states the release.