U.S. Air Force Says Latest Missile Test 'Not Related to Any Real World Events'

The U.S. Air Force published a video overnight showing its latest missile test from Tuesday. But the Air Force insists that the test is “not related to any real world events.”

The unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 11:01pm local time on Tuesday. The missile, which is capable of carrying up to three thermonuclear devices, was launched over the Pacific Ocean and landed near the Kwajalein Atoll roughly 4,200 miles to the west.

The test is fairly routine, but most missile tests conducted by the U.S. military over the past two years have been viewed with a strange air of anxiety as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have gotten worse. President Donald Trump has noted that North Korea ceased tests since his meeting with Kim Jong Un in June, but experts have pointed out that the country no longer needs to conduct extensive tests now that it’s actually achieved reliable nuclear missiles.

The Air Force insists that its latest test has nothing to do with anything that’s happening with other nations but didn’t mention any countries by name.


“Operational test launches of the Minuteman III provide valuable data to planners and holistically test the system, procedures and airmen from the initial mission planning to the final weapons employment phases,” Air Force officials said in a statement to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “These tests are not related to any real world events.”

What real world events could they be talking about? Observers are concerned about hot spots around the globe like Iran and Venezuela. Both appear to be on the Trump regime’s short list for tough talk, along with plenty of other nations. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently dubbed Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua as a “troika of tyranny,” a clumsy name that seems unlikely to stick.

The last ICBM test conducted by the U.S. was on July 31, 2018 but didn’t work out as planned. The test was canceled due to an “anomaly,” thought the Air Force didn’t get any more specific than that.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 11:01 Pacific Standard Time Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 11:01 Pacific Standard Time Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jim Araos/Released

But Americans seem unlikely to give this latest test much thought anyway. There’s plenty of other stuff to worry about on the homefront, including outright assaults on freedom of the press, and a worsening constitutional crisis after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired yesterday.

And all of that is to say nothing of the continuing gun violence that plagues the country. A gunman killed at least 12 people and himself at a bar and restaurant in Thousand Oaks, California overnight. The last thing we need right now on top of all this is a new war.


[San Luis Obispo Tribune and Air Force Times]

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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FYI (for those who care): Land based ICBMs would not typically be launched for offensive (first strike) purposes. They can take up to a half-hour to reach their target, which provides plenty of time for a retaliatory strike, nuclear or conventional, from the defending state.

If we were going to launch an attack on North Korea or Iran, it would likely be done with either submarine or stealth aircraft to limit the reaction time and coordination of their armed forces and government leadership. That said, these missiles serve as a deterrence in that the missiles themselves along with the two man launch crew are in blast proof bunkers that can withstand a direct nuclear strike. This ensures whatever nation decides to attack us would no longer exist within 30 minutes.

So if you see these things going off, the world is about to end sometime very soon. Enjoy it.

If for some odd reason you find yourself in South Dakota, I highly recommend the Minuteman Missile National Park where you can visit a more recently decommissioned launch facility.