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01:40 PM, March 24, 2015
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USAF Test-Fires Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Photo Courtesy: Gizmodo

The US Air Force test fired an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile early Monday at California to show the nation’s nuclear capabilities.

The missile was equipped with a test re-entry vehicle, instead of a live thermonuclear warhead, USAF announced in its press release Monday.

"With these launches, we not only verify our processes and the ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) weapon system, we provide a visual to the world that the Minuteman III is capable of striking pretty much anywhere with extreme precision," said said Lt. Col Tytonia Moore, 90th MW, Task Force commander.

The LGM-30G Minuteman-III is the only land-based ICBM in US service, since Peacekeeper missiles were retired under the START II treaty.  It is one component of the US nuclear triad—the other two parts of the triad being the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers. Each missile carries up to three nuclear warheads, which have a yield in the range of 300 to 500 kilotons.

The Minuteman was the first multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV)-capable missile.

 

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