Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Minuteman 3 will be test-launched in August this year despite the COVID-19 crisis, said the U.S. Strategic Command in charge of strategic weapons, such as nuclear weapons and ICBMs. The Minuteman 3 is one of the three major nuclear capabilities of the U.S. along with strategic bombers and strategic nuclear submarines. It is deemed as a strategic measure to keep North Korea, China, and Russia in check, following the recent use of B-1B bombers forward deployed to Guam across the Korean Peninsula and the nearby region.
ICBMs are one of the key tools of nuclear deterrence power exercised by the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, and constant readiness and reliability should be ensured for the mission of maintaining such nuclear deterrence power despite the massive outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. Strategic Command said. It added that the test launches of the Minuteman 3 without a warhead will be conducted as planned in August. Similar to the test launched conducted at the beginning of February, the Minuteman 3 will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands covering 6,750 kilometers between the two locations.
The U.S. Strategic Command emphasized that such test launches will verify the reliability of the Minuteman 3 and maintain fatal and definite nuclear deterrence while confirming the U.S.’ commitment to extended deterrence for its allies. The U.S. has been test-launching the Minuteman 3 two to three times a year. “The test launches have to be understood as a way for the U.S. to show off its strategic dominance in the region against the nuclear and conventional military threats of North Korea, China, and Russia,” said a military official.
In addition, the U.S. Strategic Command announced that training involving four B-52 strategic bombers and two stealth bombers, which took off simultaneously from three bases in the U.S. mainland, took place in the areas of responsibility of the U.S. European Command and Indo-Pacific Command. Specific flight routes were not revealed. Such a dynamic employment training with long-distance bombers is to ensure firm responses to potential risks in any region in the world, the U.S. Strategic Command said.
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