06 May, 2017
Wednesday's test will be the third ICBM launched from the base this year.
The test will be the second missile launched from the base in a week's time. The Minuteman III remains the US's only ground-based ICBM.
A sixth nuclear test by the North would come amid a flurry of activity by the nuclear-armed country as it seeks to master the technology needed to mount an atomic weapon on a long-range ballistic missile capable of striking the continental United States.
The test launches validate the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, while the data collected will be used by the US Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and US Strategic Command for continuing force development evaluation.
In this image taken with a slow shutter speed and provided by the U.S. Air Force, an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test just after midnight, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
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In addition to the Minuteman III tests, the USA completed the installation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile battery in South Korea earlier this week. That missile, equipped with a nonexplosive payload, also traveled to a test range in Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
North Korea continues to test missiles.
"We deployed a group of 15 active duty members, government civilians and contractors to launch, fly and recover up to eight BQM-167A targets over three days", said Lt. Col. Matthew Garrison, 82nd ATRS commander.
New missile tests by North Korea and its progress toward developing a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States have made the isolated communist dictatorship one of the top USA national security concerns.
The flights were long planned and there was a decision to keep a relatively low public profile on the flyovers to avoid increasing the regional temperature, an official said.
At the same time, the analyst said that it's worth remembering that the USA has made the decision to develop a new, heavy ground-launched missile, which will eventually replace the Minuteman III.