Air Force tests intercontinental ballistic missile

Air Force tests intercontinental ballistic missile
© Courtesy the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

The Air Force test-launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wednesday, Air Force Global Strike Command said in a press release.

The Minuteman III was launched with reentry vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:13 a.m. local time, according to the release. The reentry vehicle traveled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.


“The flight test program demonstrates one part of the operational capability of the ICBM weapon system," Colonel Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, said in a statement. “The Minuteman III is nearly 50 years old, and continued test launches are essential in ensuring its reliability until the mid-2030s when the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent is fully in place. Most importantly, this visible message of national security serves to assure our partners and dissuade potential aggressors.”

The test was conducted by a team of Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., according to the release.

The release stressed the test was not in response to world events, saying that launch calendars are scheduled three to five years in advance and planning for specific launches start six months to a year in advance.

Wednesday’s test came just hours after North Korea conducted its own latest missile test. On Wednesday morning North Korea time, the country launched a projectile into the Sea of Japan that is said to have been a medium-range, sea-launched ballistic missile.

North Korea’s test came just a day after Pyongyang and Washington announced that working level negotiations would resume this weekend in stalled nuclear talks, and the test was widely seen as sending a message ahead of the talks.