VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE (CBSLA.com/AP) — An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile has been launched from a U.S. Air Force Base near Lompoc on a flight to a target in the Pacific Ocean.
The missile lifted off at 12:03 a.m. Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
“These ICBM test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent”, according to an Air Force statement.
Narrated video footage of the launch was also publicly released.
The 30th Space Wing commander, Col. John Moss, said Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of the U.S. nuclear force and to demonstrate the national nuclear capabilities.
The Minuteman III is one of three legs of the nuclear triad, which is also comprised of strategic bombers such as the B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit, as well as submarine launched ballistic missions, provided by U.S. Navy submarines.
In a Minuteman test, a so-called re-entry vehicle travels more than 4,000 miles downrange to a target at Kwajalein Atoll near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The launch comes amid increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula as the North Korean regime vows to continue its nuclear missile tests.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)