Women's Health

US Army successfully launches ICBM test from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California


The US military successfully carried out a test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, which had been delayed to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing during China’s show of force near Taiwan earlier this month.

The test showed “the readiness of US nuclear forces and provides confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” a US military statement said after the launch.

The Minuteman III launch last week traveled 4,200 miles from Santa Barbara, Calif., to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, officials confirmed.

US missile crews and weapons personnel were praised this morning for their “unwavering vigilance in defending the homeland” as the Air Force Strike Command announced a successful ICBM test.

They said “the Airmen who accomplish this vital mission are among the most skillfully trained and educated the Air Force has to offer.”

Vandenberg Space Force Base confirmed the test launched at 12:53 a.m. PT on Wednesday, August 11.

The US military said on Tuesday it had carried out a test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, delayed to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing during China's show of force near Taiwan earlier this month.  Pictured: A shared image from Vandenberg Space Force Base of the missile launch

The US military said on Tuesday it had carried out a test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, delayed to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing during China’s show of force near Taiwan earlier this month. Pictured: A shared image from Vandenberg Space Force Base of the missile launch

Intercontinental ballistic missiles can have a range of up to 9,300 miles – and are primarily designed for the delivery of nuclear weapons. They were first deployed in the United States in 1959 and have become a crucial weapon in the US nuclear arsenal.

The Biden administration is believed to have postponed the launch of the routine test on Thursday to avoid further inflaming tensions with China. However, the Air Force denied that their test was related to world events.

The United States has repeatedly delayed testing this year as Beijing steps up its rhetoric on Taiwan, which it considers Chinese territory, and Russia wages war on Ukraine.

China has deployed dozens of planes and fired live missiles into the Taiwan Strait after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island.

The country considers Taiwan as part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.

Air Force Global Strike Command said this morning, “This test launch is part of routine and periodic activities designed to demonstrate that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable, and effective in deterring threats of the 21st century and reassure our allies.

“Such tests have taken place more than 300 times before, and this test is not the result of current world events.

“The ICBM re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

“These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrence.”

Colonel Chris Cruise, Commanding Officer of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, added, “Make no mistake, our nuclear triad is the cornerstone of the national security of our country and our allies around the world.

“This planned test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ICBM fleet exemplifies our readiness and weapon system reliability.

“It is also an excellent platform to showcase the skills and expertise of our strategic weapons maintenance personnel and missile crews who maintain unwavering vigilance to defend the homeland.”

Major Armand Wong, task force commander, said the test was planned well in advance – and each ICBM test takes at least six months to a year of pre-planning before it can be launched.

China has deployed dozens of planes and fired live missiles into the Taiwan Strait after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island.  US delayed missile test from earlier this month due to rising tensions

China has deployed dozens of planes and fired live missiles into the Taiwan Strait after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island.  US delayed missile test from earlier this month due to rising tensions

China has deployed dozens of planes and fired live missiles into the Taiwan Strait after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island. US delayed missile test from earlier this month due to rising tensions

Pictured: Chinese missile batteries open fire from the coast near Pingtang Island across the Taiwan Strait as Beijing stages the biggest war games around the self-governing island

Pictured: Chinese missile batteries open fire from the coast near Pingtang Island across the Taiwan Strait as Beijing stages the biggest war games around the self-governing island

Pictured: Chinese missile batteries open fire from the coast near Pingtang Island across the Taiwan Strait as Beijing stages the biggest war games around the self-governing island

In April, the US military canceled a test of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The delay was aimed at reducing nuclear tensions with Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The nuclear-capable Minuteman III, manufactured by Boeing Co. (BA.N), is key to the US military’s strategic arsenal. The missile has a range of over 6,000 miles (9,660 km+) and can travel at speeds of around 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 km/h).

The missiles are scattered in reinforced underground silos operated by launch teams.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in February that his country’s nuclear forces should be put on high alert, raising fears that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war. But US officials said they had seen no reason so far to change Washington’s nuclear alert levels.

Russia and the United States possess by far the largest arsenals of nuclear warheads after the Cold War that divided the world for much of the 20th century, pitting the West against the Soviet Union and its allies.

Minuteman III nuclear missile: The $7 million warhead that can travel 6,000 miles at 15,000 mph

The Minuteman III forms the United States’ land-based ICBM of the nation’s nuclear triad, along with the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers.

It is a strategic weapon system using an intercontinental range ballistic missile. The missiles are scattered in reinforced silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center via a system of reinforced cables.

The $7,000,000 Minuteman III weighs 79,432 pounds and can go 6,000 miles at 15,000 mph.

Development of the missile began in the 1950s and was named after colonial Minutemen of the American Revolutionary War, who could be ready to fight on short notice.

The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is pictured during a test launch in October 2019

The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is pictured during a test launch in October 2019

The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is pictured during a test launch in October 2019

The Minuteman entered service in 1962 as a deterrent weapon capable of striking Soviet cities, the Minuteman-II entering service in 1965 with a number of improvements to its accuracy and survivability against systems anti-ballistic missiles (AMB).

In 1970, the Minuteman-III became the first ICBM deployed with multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs): three smaller warheads that improved the missile’s ability to hit targets defended by AMBs.

In 1970, during the Cold War, 1,000 Minuteman missiles were deployed, but by 2017 the number had dropped to 400, deployed in missile silos around Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; and FE Warren AFB, Wyoming.

From 2027, Minuteman will be gradually replaced by the new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) ICBM from 2027 to be built by Northrop Grumman.

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