An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test from an air base in the state of California, amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a single test re-entry vehicle was launched at 12.03 a.m. (local time) on Wednesday by a combined team of US Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen. By all accounts the launch was a success, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to US Air Force, the ICBM’s re-entry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, travelled to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, approximately 4,200 miles away from the launch site.
The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the US’s ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of national security and the security of allies and partners.
The Minuteman III is one of three legs of the US nuclear triad, which is also comprised of strategic bombers such as the B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit, as well as submarine launched ballistic missions, provided by Navy submarines.
Though US Air Force Global Strike Command routinely conducts ICBM test launches from Vandenberg, the latest is still a great concern amid heightened tensions between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Vandenberg will be one of two bases in the US to conduct a large-scale test in May.