Washington has conducted a “routine” test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III
The US Air Force has successfully test-fired a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The silo-launched missile was fired early on Wednesday from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The launch was described as a “routine” test, intended to “validate and verify the safety, security, effectiveness, and readiness of the weapon system,” according to US Air Force Global Strike Command.
“These test launches demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” Col. Bryan Titus, who directly commanded the launch, said in a statement.
Footage released by the US military shows the missile ejecting from its silo, protected by a heavy blast cover. The missile is then seen lifting off into the night sky.
Ahead of the launch, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the US had sent notification to the Hague Code of Conduct, as well as informing Russia under existing obligations.
The Vandenberg Space Force Base houses US Air Force Global Strike Command’s 576th Flight Test Squadron, which is currently the only dedicated ICMB test squadron in the country.
Minuteman III missiles entered service in the 1970s and remain the ground-based staple of the US nuclear triad. Although they have been repeatedly modernized since their introduction, the Pentagon has for years been calling for the arsenal to be refurbished. The military has thus far failed to secure the necessary funding from US lawmakers, estimated at trillions of dollars.