The U.S. has sent out a strong message to Russia and North Korea when its military test-fired another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Thursday night last week. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said that the test is meant to let both Russians and North Koreans know that the country has an effective nuclear weapon the country is prepared to use.
The missile that roared into the skies Thursday night was an unarmed Minuteman III missile. It was launched out of a silo located at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and landed half an hour later in a target area that located some 4,200 miles or 6,500 kilometers away near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific.
According to Boeing, the Minuteman Missile is powered by three solid-fueled rocket engines. It can travel more than 6,000 miles and can reach top speeds of more than 15,000 mph. This missile took its first flight way back in February 1, 1961. Meanwhile, the Minuteman III was launched back in 1968. It is said to have better accuracy, range and target capability than its predecessor.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, there are as much as 500 Minuteman III missiles deployed across four air force bases (AFB) throughout the U.S. These are the Minot AFB and Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota; Malmstrom AFB in Montanta and the F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming. Each unit reportedly costs $7 million.
Work had been present to witness the Minuteman III missile test launch on Thursday night. And ahead of the launch, Reuters reports that he had spoken to the media saying, “We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.”