The United States military said on Tuesday (16) that it had carried out a test with a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The operation showed “the readiness of US nuclear forces and provides confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the country’s nuclear deterrent,” according to a US military statement.
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US tests Minuteman III intercontinental missile
The missile traveled about 6,760 km and was launched unarmed gives Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. It was a test scheduled years in advance. In accordance with standard procedures, the United States released a release on the launch in accordance with the Hague Code of Conduct and notified the Russian government.
Why did it happen now? Does it have to do with the tension between China and Taiwan?
The military said that about 300 of these tests have been performed previously and that were not the result of any specific global event. However, it had been delayed to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing during China’s show of force near Taiwan earlier this month.
China has deployed dozens of planes and fired live missiles into the Taiwan Strait after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a trip to the self-governing island. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
The test suggests Washington is less concerned about the escalating situation around Taiwan, at least in the short term.
The government of President Joe Biden has said it will continue to conduct routine air and naval operations in the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.
The US military also canceled a test of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile in April, aimed at easing nuclear tensions with Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine.
US tests Minuteman III intercontinental missile – Photo: REUTERS
What kind of missile was launched?
The nuclear-capable Minuteman III, manufactured by Boeing, is critical to the US military’s strategic arsenal. The missile has a range of over 9,660 km and can travel at a speed of approximately 24,000 km/h.
The missiles are installed in reinforced launch silos to protect against attacks and connected to an underground control center via a reinforced cable system.
A variety of communications systems provide the President and Secretary of Defense with highly reliable and virtually instantaneous direct contact with each launch team.
Launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental missile in 2017 – Photo: Disclosure / US Air Force / Via Reuters
The Minuteman weapon system was conceived in the late 1950s and the Minuteman I was deployed in the early 1960s. Modernization programs resulted in new versions of the missile, with expanded targeting options and greater accuracy. “Today’s Minuteman weapons system is the product of nearly 60 years of continuous improvement,” the US Air Force says on its system page.
The current American arsenal consists of 400 Minuteman III missiles on different launch pads.