US test launches unarmed Minuteman-III (LGM-30G) nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with the range to strike North Korea

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Minuteman III / missile / Minuteman-III / LGM-30G

The US has test-fired a second Minuteman-III (LGM-30G) nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the second such launch in a week, amid rising tensions with North Korea.

The first US test was conducted end of April to demonstrate its nuclear capabilities. Military officials said the fist test involved the launch of intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Minuteman-III rocket, which was carrying a non-explosive load, travelled 4,200 miles before landing at a test range in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.

The second missile blasted off just after midnight on May 2nd from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and delivered a single projectile to a target approximately 4,200 miles away at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, US Air Force Global Strike Command said.

The tests, which took 10 months to plan, was the latest designed to check the readiness and accuracy of a weapon system that forms part of the US nuclear force. The US has about 450 such missiles in stock.

The Minuteman-III (LGM-30G)

The Minuteman-III missile has a range of around 8,000 miles, putting it within striking distance of Pyongyang.

 Minuteman III diagramExploded view of the Minuteman III missile

The Minuteman-III program started in 1966, and included several improvements over the previous versions. It was first deployed in 1970. Most modifications related to the final stage and reentry system. The final (third) stage was improved with a new fluid-injected motor, giving finer control than the previous four-nozzle system. Performance improvements realized in Minuteman-III include increased flexibility in reentry vehicle (RV) and penetration aids deployment, increased survivability after a nuclear attack, and increased payload capacity. The missile retains a gimballed inertial guidance system.

The existing Minuteman-III missiles have been further improved over the decades in service, with more than $7 billion spent in the last decade to upgrade the 450 missiles. All Minuteman-III missiles are emplaced at FE Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming (90th Missile Wing), Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota (91st Missile Wing), and Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana (341st Missile Wing).

Source: US Air Force/Wikipedia/The Independent