The US Air Force tested an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) early on Wednesday with a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The Minuteman III is the only nuclear-capable ground-based ICBM that remains in service in the US.
“An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 1:13 a.m. Pacific Time Oct. 2, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif,” Air Force Global Strike Command said in a statement.
The missile lifted off at 1:13 a.m. from the base northwest of Los Angeles and sent a test re-entry vehicle on a 4,200-mile flight over the Pacific Ocean to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB were selected for the task force to support the test launch.
“The flight test program demonstrates one part of the operational capability of the ICBM weapon system," said Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “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.”