US Launches Unarmed ICBM To Demonstrate Nuclear Capabilities

( – The United States conducted a test of its nuclear deterrence system by launching an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on September 6.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles work by launching high enough to almost be in orbit, and after their motors are turned off, they plunge downward towards whatever the target intended may be.

Colonel Bryan Titus, vice commander of Space Launch Delta 30, oversaw the launch. He commended the Space Force and the dedicated personnel responsible for maintaining the US ground-based missile system. Titus stated that the people involved with the testing and launching of the ICBMs in the US are the most trained and capable of doing their job. He also noted the high readiness of US nuclear forces.

While the specific flight profile of the September 6 test was not disclosed, the Minuteman III ICBM has a flight ceiling of 700 miles above Earth, with a top speed of approximately 15,000 mph.

The launch’s notable aspect was that a single Minuteman III ICBM deployed three unarmed reentry vehicles, suggesting that the test assessed Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs). MIRVs are payloads equipped with multiple warheads capable of targeting different objectives by following distinct trajectories upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere. The Minuteman III was the first missile to introduce this capability.

Space Launch Delta 30 conducted a similar launch last year, on September 7, 2022. In that test, a Minuteman III ICBM successfully performed the launch maneuvers required for passing testing, including dropping fake payloads into the ocean.

The Minuteman III has been in service since 1970 but will soon be replaced by the LGM-35A Sentinel by 2030. The Sentinel is expected to remain in use by the US until 2075, according to the US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.

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