The United States Air Force on Tuesday launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg California, the Air Force Global Strike Command said. The launch, at 12:49 a.m. PT, was a test to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent, according to a statement from the Air Force. Such tests have occurred more than 300 times before and this test is not the result of current world events, according to the Air Force.
The launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was originally scheduled for August 4, according to Steven Wilson, a spokesman for AF Global Strike Command. However, it was delayed over concerns about China’s response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan. CNN confirmed that the US regularly tests its ICBM system to verify its accuracy and reliability. “Make no mistake – our nuclear triad is the cornerstone of the national security of our country and of our allies around the globe,” Col. Chris Cruise, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander, said in a statement. “This scheduled test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ICBM fleet illustrates our readiness and reliability of the weapon system.” It is also a great platform to show the skill sets and expertise of our strategic weapons maintenance personnel and of our missile crews who maintain an unwavering vigilance to defend the homeland.”
The Minuteman III is the only land-based leg of the US nuclear triad, which consists of three elements: the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile, nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles like the Minuteman III.