Ballistic Missile Test-Fired From California Coastal Base

For the second time in a week, a Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test from Vandenberg Air Force Base along the Central California coast, some 60 miles north of Santa Barbara.

The Minuteman III missile test launch occurred at 12:02 a.m. PDT from the base northwest of Santa Barbara, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

This is the second test missile of this type during the week. The missile flight was visible to Californians for the first several minutes after launch, and a "low rumble was audible around the Santa Maria Valley".

"These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities", he said.

After Wednesday's test, USA media again speculated that the missile testing was probably connected to tensions with North Korea. The move comes amid rapidly growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, although the mission was planned "over the past 10 months", according to the 30th Space Wing, which conducted the test.

"The objective of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system", Air Force Global Strike Command said in a statement.


On 3 May, the latest test launch was conducted from the Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), California, following a similar test-firing carried out on 26 April.

The launches came amid USA expressions of concern about North Korea's nuclear capability. The U.S. has about 450 of the missiles.

Air Force Global Strike Command said data collected from test launches are used for "continuing force development evaluation".

The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of intercontinental range.

It was not meant to send a message to North Korea, according to AFP.


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