The US Space Force has announced another successful test launch of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The event occurred a day after North Korea paraded its indigenously-developed ICBMs, which analysts say could potentially challenge Washington’s defense systems.
Equipped with a test reentry vehicle, the Minuteman III was fired from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on February 9.
It reportedly traveled approximately 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometers) to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
According to the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), the test was meant to demonstrate the safety, reliability, and effectiveness of the country’s nuclear deterrence capability.
It was also intended to reassure US allies that the US Space Force could deter 21st-century threats.
“A test launch displays the heart of our deterrence mission on the world’s stage, assuring our nation and its allies that our weapons are capable and our airmen are ready and willing to defend peace across the globe at a moment’s notice,” AFGSC commander Thomas A. Bussiere said.
‘Not a Response’
On February 8, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un led a nighttime military parade featuring a mock-up of a new solid-fuel ICBM and five new launch vehicles.
Local media also posted photos of what appeared to be more than a dozen ICBMs rolling through the central square of Pyongyang.
New nighttime #satellite images, from Feb 8, reveal a #military parade in progress to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the #Korean People’s Army. These images were collected at 10:05 pm KST & show a large North Korean flag & thousands of people assembled in Kim il Sung Square. pic.twitter.com/triivu8sty
— Maxar Technologies (@Maxar) February 8, 2023
Despite the massive parade of missiles, the US AFGSC clarified that the recent test of its Minuteman III was not a response to the event.
The service stated that the launch was part of routine, periodic space force exercises that have occurred “over 300 times before.”
“This test launch is a culmination of months of preparation and collaboration across multiple air forces agencies,” 91st Missile Wing official Maj. Martin Escarzaga said.
“The Airmen who perform this mission of strategic deterrence are the best our nation has to offer. They work 365 days a year to maintain, support, operate, and secure this vital component of our nuclear triad.”