US Air Force launches test missile off California coast
An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile has been launched from a US Air Force Base in California on a flight to a target in the Pacific Ocean.
The missile lifted off at 12.03 am on Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 130 miles north west of Los Angeles.
An Air Force statement said the mission was part of a programme to test the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.
The 30th Space Wing commander, Colonel John Moss, said Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of the US nuclear force and to demonstrate the national nuclear capabilities.
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.
"Team V is once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile," Moss said.
"These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities.
"We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation."
The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking, telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.