Amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the United States on Wednesday test-launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from an air base in California.
The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a single test re-entry vehicle was launched at 12.03 am local time by a team of the US Air Force Global Strike Command airmen. By all accounts the launch was a success.
According to the USAF, the ICBM's re-entry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, travelled to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, approximately 4,200 miles from the launch site.
The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the US's ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of national security and the security of allies and partners, a statement said.
The Minuteman III is one of three legs of the US nuclear triad, which also comprises strategic bombers such as the B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit, as well as submarine launched ballistic missiles.
Though US Air Force Global Strike Command routinely conducts ICBM test launches from Vandenberg, the latest is still a great concern amid heightened tensions between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Vandenberg will be one of two bases in the US to conduct a large-scale test in May.