California ICBM Test – Was The United States Merely Publicizing Its Military Prowess? [Video]

An ICBM test was carried out along the California coastline by the United States military. The unarmed Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) carried only scientific equipment, but is being touted as a strong reminder of America’s military prowess.

America test fired an ICBM, a second in a single week, by shooting it into the California night sky. The unarmed Minuteman III missile shot out of a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California late Thursday night at 11:01 p.m., sped across the night sky at speeds of up to 15,000 mph (24,000 Km/h). Without any ordinance payload, the missile landed half hour later in a target area 4,200 miles (6,500 km) away near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific, reported Reuters.

Many reports indicate the ICBM test was conducted merely as a show of force to America’s constant international threat. Countries like China and Russia remain a formidable challenge, while North Korea continues to be a small but omnipresent threat. Incidentally, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who witnessed the launch, corroborated the intentions of the country. He confirmed that the United States has conducted about 15 such ICBM tests in the last five years alone, reported Big News Network. These tests are meant to send a message to the country’s strategic rivals like Russia, China and North Korea. The tests reaffirm that America still has a very effective and operational nuclear arsenal, he said,

“That’s exactly why we do this. We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.”

America has been flexing its military muscle for some time now. After Russia intentions came to light, and North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test and launched a long-range rocket into space, the United States has been regularly conducting military exercises with its allies like South Korea. American military jets have been conducting sorties quite near to the border South Korea shares with North Korea. The United States also conducted large scale joint naval exercises involving its own ships as well as those from other countries.

However, it is not just the show of force that America is interested in. Though the country may not openly show, it is increasingly concerned about its ageing nuclear arsenal. In fact, the Minuteman III is a Cold War era ICBM and has far exceeded its originally intended 10-year effective lifespan. Work hinted at the same by saying the following.

“We do it to demonstrate that these missiles – even though they’re old – they still remain the most effective, or one of the most effective, missiles in the world.”

The California ICBM test appears to be a scientific endeavor rather than a military one as the country intends to ensure that the missiles are still working, despite being several decades old. Quite recently, three military personnel lost their ranks after they accidentally damaged an ICBM resting in its silo. Such incidents indicate that severe lapse of technology and significant age of the arsenal.

The United States has a formidable arsenal of about 450 ICBM Minuteman missiles. Though the exact locations is a closely guarded secret, they are housed at underground silos located in Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota, reported The Examiner. Each year, America’s Department of Defense tests at least one such ICBMs to ensure their integrity, help the staff manning these missiles get hands-on experience, keep the activity, and preparedness sharp.

Testing such ICBMs and heavily publicizing the event serves as a strong reminder to America’s enemies that the country’s formidable nuclear arsenal riding atop its ICBM is always ready for war and that no adversary should dare start a fight, reported Daily News.

[Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images]