The US Air Force successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) this week from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base as part of the agency's latest operational test.
Carrying a mock nuclear warhead, the ballistic missile launched from an underground silo at the Air Force base at 11:01 p.m. on Tuesday toward an undisclosed target in the Pacific Ocean, according to AP. The deployment was conducted to determine the accuracy and reliability of the system.
"Test launches provide valuable data for US Strategic Command and the US Air Force," the Air Force Global Strike Command stated in a release obtained by the Lompoc Record newspaper.
"A reliable test launch occurs when a test missile launches, completes its flight path within a designated safety corridor, the equipment functions properly, sensor data is collected, and the re-entry vehicle impacts where targeted."
"Though the re-entry vehicle reached its intended target, the test and analysis data is not releasable to the public," the release added, stressing that the tests "are not related to any real world events."
Earlier this year, on July 31, the US Air Force was forced to terminate a test launch of an unarmed ICBM due to an unexpected in-flight anomaly. According to website Air Force Technology, the first 2018 launches of the Minuteman III ICBMs began taking place at the Vandenberg base in April. The air force conducts approximately four tests at the base annually.