An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:03 a.m., PDT, April 26, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile was launched just after midnight Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base as part of an operational test to show the country’s nuclear deterrent capability, according to the U.S. Air Force.
The Minuteman III missile test launch occurred at 12:03 a.m. from the base northwest of Lompoc, Calif., according to Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing. The launch command was delivered from the Airborne Launch Control System on a Navy E-6 Mercury jet, according to the Air Force Global Strike Command.
The missile, which was equipped with a nonexplosive payload that recorded flight data, traveled 4,200 miles to a test range in Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to the Air Force.
Col. Chris Moss, Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing commander, said the test launch was “an important demonstration of our nation’s nuclear deterrent capability.”
The test was conducted by the Air Force Global Strike Command’s team from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Warren Air Force Base is one of three missile bases overseeing the country’s intercontinental ballistic missile forces.
According to the Air Force Global Strike Command, the launch was designed to “verify the accuracy and reliability” of the Minuteman missile system as well as provide “valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”
The missile has been in service for 60 years, but it has been upgraded over the years with improved targeting and enhanced accuracy systems, the Air Force said.
On Monday, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, criticized the timing of the launch, citing heightened tension between the U.S. and North Korea. In recent weeks, North Korea has stepped up its testing of ballistic missiles.
“When it comes to missile testing, the U.S. is operating with a clear double standard: It views its own tests as justified and useful, while it views the tests of North Korea as threatening and destabilizing,” foundation President David Krieger said in a statement. “What is needed is diplomacy rather than military provocations. Threats, whether in the form of tweets, nuclear-capable aircraft carrier groups, or nuclear-capable missile launches, only increase the dangers to us all.”
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
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President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Handout via REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."