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US set for 2nd Minuteman III nuclear missile test in 3 weeks

Minuteman III ICBM test in 2022
US Air Force file photo of a Minuteman III launch

The US Air Force is scheduled to carry out an operational test launch of an Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday, September 7.

The launch from north Vandenberg will be the second of its kind conducted by the the United States in three weeks.

The service previously carried out a Minuteman III test on August 16, after the event had been delayed in the wake of tensions with China over the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan early August.

Announcing the September 7 test, the air force said the launch was a routine test scheduled years far in advance. Consistent with previous tests launches, this ICBM test launch will validate and verify the effectiveness and readiness and accuracy of the weapon system.

“In accordance with standard procedures, the United States has transmitted a pre-launch notification pursuant to the Hague Code of Conduct, and notified the Russian government in advance, pursuant to New START treaty obligations,” the air force said.

“As you may recall, the last test launch was August 4th, which had been delayed,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, said announcing the test.

“So for those wondering about timing, the two launches moved closer together due to the delays from the August date sliding to the right. And again, tomorrow’s launch was scheduled far in advance.”

The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

After almost 60 years of Minuteman’s service, the air force is currently looking to field a successor for the system in the mid-2030s. Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, the program that will replace the Minuteman III ICBM is expected to achieve an initial capability of 2029.