(CNN) — The United States Air Force tested a nuclear-capable long-range missile on Tuesday — without weapons incorporated during the test — the force’s Global Strike Command reported.
The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, equipped with a new reentry vehicle that is undergoing testing (Editor’s note: reentry vehicles sit at the nose of the missile and contain multiple warheads, which can be aimed at different targets at the same time), was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and traveled about 6,750 km to a test range near the Marshall Islands.
The missile, launched at 3:49 a.m. Miami time, was “to demonstrate the readiness of United States nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” said a statement from the Air Force.
“This test launch is part of routine and periodic activities designed to demonstrate that America’s nuclear deterrent is safe, reliable and effective in deterring 21st century threats and reassuring our allies. These types of tests have been conducted more than 300 times previously, and this test is not the result of current world events,” the statement continues.
The launch was initially scheduled for August 4, according to Steven Wilson, a spokesman for the Armed Forces Global Strike Command, but was delayed due to concerns about the Chinese response to the visit of the president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan, as confirmed by CNN. A US official told CNN at the time that it was a “prudent move.”
America’s “Nuclear Triad”
The United States regularly tests its intercontinental weapons system for accuracy and reliability.
“Make no mistake: Our nuclear triad is the cornerstone of national security for our country and our allies around the world,” Col. Chris Cruise, commander of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, said in a statement. “This scheduled test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ballistic missile fleet illustrates our readiness and weapons system reliability. It’s also a great platform to showcase the skills and experience of our strategic weapons maintainers and of our missile crews who maintain unwavering vigilance to defend the homeland,” he added.
The Minuteman III is traditionally known as the only ground-based system of the US nuclear triad. The other two parts of the triad are the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile and airborne nuclear weapons by long-range strategic bombers.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster, Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.