US Air Force launches 15,000mph Minuteman missile ‘to test weapon’s readiness’

The US Air Force has successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman III missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle.

Footage taken from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US, shows the ICBM taking off from the base.

It rises steeply and quickly begins to move along a trajectory close to horizontal.

Launched by the Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen, the reentry vehicle of the missile travelled 4,200 miles at the speed of 15,000mph to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean.

An Air Force press release said the launch's purpose was "determine the weapon system's effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy". They added it was not a reaction to any world events or regional tensions.

It is also crucial in providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

Air Force Chief of Staff, General Charles Brown Jr, said in a statement: "Like previous test launches, this event demonstrated the Air Force’s commitment to the Nation’s nuclear enterprise while ensuring the United States' nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, and effective to deter our adversaries while reassuring our allies and partners.

"We must continue to invest in this viable deterrent, and the Airmen who support this mission, as part of the most responsive leg of our nuclear triad."

Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander, added: "We have had a busy test launch schedule the last few months, and our team has worked very hard to successfully execute each mission.

"Today’s launch sends a visible message of deterrence to the world, and I couldn’t be more proud of the dedication and professionalism of our team."

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