MIRV Reentry pictures

peacekeeper reentry kwajaleinAn MIRV (Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicle) is a bus that can deliver multiple nuclear warheads from a single launch vehicle.

Depending on the launch vehicle, each missile can carry up to ten or twelve separate warheads and decoys, or “chaff.” Each warhead in the MIRV is independently targetable.

During testing, videos and time-exposure photographs were taken of MIRVs during reentry and descent. The results are visually striking.


Test of the LGM-118A Peacekeeper system in Kwajalein (USAF)

The LGM-118 Peacekeeper reentry photo is one of the most widely circulated. A lower-resolution version of this picture is featured on Wikipedia.


KMR Reentry (SMDC)

Peacekeeper MIRV reentry over USAKA

Peacekeeper MIRV reentry over the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site/USAKA (SMDC)


MX MIRVs pass through the clouds after a 4,130 nautical mile flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA (DOD)




minuteman iii MIRV reentry

Minuteman III reentry vehicles

 MIRV reentry over the ocean

MIRV reentry over the ocean

MIRV reentry aerial view


MIRV warheads making reentry near Kwajalein

Test warheads fall onto their targets near Kwajalein Atoll after being released from a Peacekeeper’s MIRV (USAF)

Ten MK-21 MIRVs heading toward the Kwajalein atoll

Ten MK-21 MIRVs heading toward the Kwajalein atoll

Minuteman III reentry

peacekeeper reentry kwajalein


There are a few videos showing actual reentries, but most are very low quality. The best compilation is this amazing video that must be from the early nineties: Minuteman III Missile Launch & Re Entry- California to Kwajalein Atoll (edit- This was removed youtube, but Dziban provided the Liveleak video below in a comment). It looks like a VHS rip, and it has a great soundtrack:

This throwback LGM-118 MX Peacekeeper ICBM information video goes into depth about the launch and reentry process:

Further Reading

Russia presents latest MIRV missile to reporters : Voice of Russia (2011)

Minuteman Weapon System History and Description (pdf) (2001) FOIA/Declassified

Wikipedia: Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle

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8 thoughts on “MIRV Reentry pictures

  1. Awesome site. Well done collecting these pics. It appears that the Minuteman III video has been taken down — did you happen to snag a copy?

    I assume you’ve seen the Flight Mission 6 ABM tests?

    –nick black

  2. Fantastic photos! What’s the ICBM flight time from Vandenberg AFB to Kwajalein Atoll? I’m looking forward to tonights launch at Vandenberg AFB. If I get good photos I’ll post a link.
    Thanks so much.

  3. This is useful, hard to find. I always thought that the warheads would glow like that on re-entry. Gives you about 1 second to duck.