U.S. Air Force test launch of an unarmed ICBM on September 6, 2023 Photo Credit: DVIDS, U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan Quijas

“This test launch is ... intended to demonstrate that the United States' nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies.”

The U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command in a press release on the Air Force's test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which it explained was "part of of routine and periodic activities ..."

Published on

sep 7, 2023

Why It Matters: An intercontinental ballistic missile, carrying a nuclear warhead, is one of the most dangerous weapons in the world. A test launch is rare to see.

Wednesday's test launch of an unarmed nuclear-capable ICBM was "a culmination of months of preparation" which involved "multiple government partners," the Air Force Global Strike Command said.

The Command noted its ICBM test launch program is intended to demonstrate the missile's operational capability as well as ensuring that the U.S.' maintains "a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners."

The Air Force Global Strike Command also said, "Such tests have occurred over 300 times before, and this test is not the result of current world events."

According to Air & Space Forces Magazine, Wednesday's test marked "the third ICBM test launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base this year," following similar test launches in February and April.

  • More Details: After launching from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California early on Wednesday morning, the ICBM's reentry vehicle (which would contain the warhead(s) of a missile) traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands (located between Australia and Hawaii in the western Pacific Ocean).
  • Prior to the test launch, Vandenberg Space Force Base said in a statement: "In accordance with standard procedures, the United States has transmitted a pre-launch notification pursuant of the Hague Code of Conduct, and notified the Russian government in advance, per our existing bi-lateral obligations."
  • CBS News further explains, "The Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation was signed in November 2002 to regulate the use of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destructions, and has since increased its membership from 93 to 143 signatories. Members who have signed the Hague Code 'voluntarily commit themselves politically to provide pre-launch notifications (PLNs) on ballistic missile and space-launch vehicle launches (SLVs) and test flights' ..."

Minutemen III test launch showcases readiness of U.S. nuclear force's safe, effective deterrent

U.S. Air Force conducts test launch of unarmed Minuteman III ICBM from California

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