US Hails Overnight Test Of Minuteman III Ballistic Missile After Delay Over China Tensions
In the first week of August, at a moment Chinese military drills surrounding Taiwan were kicked into high gear following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ultra-provocative visit to the self-ruled island, the White House had announced the Pentagon postponed a routine test launch of an Air Force Minuteman III nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile.
The Air Force’s initial scheduled launch date from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California had been delayed, it was announced Aug.4, with the explicit reasoning being the need to avoid any unnecessary escalation of tensions with Beijing, also at a moment a USS carrier strike group was in regional waters near China.
But overnight, that test has now been carried out successfully, showcasing what the Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen has said is a major nuclear deterrent in America’s arsenal.
In a statement Tuesday the command said it “launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test re-entry vehicle from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Aug. 16 at 12:49 a.m. Pacific Time to demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.”
At a moment tensions over Taiwan are still boiling, and after six months of the Russian war in Ukraine, the command stressed that “Such tests have occurred more than 300 times before, and this test is not the result of current world events.”
“The ICBM’s reentry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands,” according to details from the Air Force. “These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”
Emphasizing further that American rivals should not see this as a provocation in need of escalation, the command’s Task Force commander Maj. Armand Wong said, “Our test launches are scheduled well in advance and are not reactionary to world events.” He added: “A meticulous planning process for each launch begins six-months to a year prior to launch.”
As for the earlier, rare and somewhat unprecedented delay of the planned-for early August test, a defense official told WSJ of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision, “This is a long-planned test, but it is being postponed to remove any misunderstandings given the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] actions around Taiwan.”
Tue, 08/16/2022 – 07:40