On Wednesday, the US Air Force test-launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in California as part of the military’s standard tests to “maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent,” according to a statement.
Tests like these are conducted about four times a year, according to Linda Frost, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Global Strike Command.
Joe Thomas, another spokesman, confirmed the test was routine and is not an attempt to show force amid the current standoff over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
“These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” said the strike command in a statement.
The missile, called the Minuteman III, is capable of being fitted with a nuclear warhead. In its latest test, it blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 0702 GMT, traveled some 4,200 miles, and went down near a Pacific Ocean reef. The reef is part of the Marshall Islands and includes a U.S. military missile test site.
In its statement, the strike command added, “The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational capability of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of US national security and the security of US allies and partners.”
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