US military to test launch ICBM on Wednesday

In this photo provided by the Missile Defense Agency, the lead ground-based Interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in a “salvo” engagement test of an unarmed missile target Monday, March 25, 2019. In the first test of its kind, the Pentagon on Monday carried out the “salvo” intercept of an unarmed missile soaring over the Pacific, using two interceptor missiles launched from underground silos in southern California. (Missile Defense Agency via AP)

The U.S. military will hold a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wednesday, less than a month after the last such test, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson said Tuesday.  

Air Force Global Strike Command will hold an “operational test launch” of an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM in the early morning of Sept. 7 from Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. 

“This launch is a routine test which was scheduled far in advance and consistent with previous tests. This ICBM launch will validate and verify effectiveness and readiness of the system,” Ryder said.  

He added that the United States has given the Russian government an advanced notice of the launch, in accordance with standard procedures. 

The Minuteman III, which is capable of holding a nuclear payload, was last tested on Aug. 16 after being delayed for nearly two weeks due to increased tensions with China over Taiwan.  

Ryder said that the launch is being held less than a month after the last such test due to the delay of the previous launch moving the dates closer together.  

In the past year, test launches of the Minuteman III have been pushed back several times thanks to U.S. tensions with Russia over Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, as well as stresses between Washington and Beijing in relation to Taiwan.

Minuteman III ICBMs are located in underground silos in five Western states and are tested several times a year. The missiles have a range of more than 6,000 miles and can travel up to 15,000 miles per hour.

Updated at 2:58 p.m. to clarify launch date.

Tags Defense Department ICBM Minuteman Pat Ryder pentagon
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