US Air Force tests missile in California

File photo of an unarmed Minuteman III test launch in 2017

Washington (AFP) – The US Air Force on Wednesday test launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, officials said.

According to a statement from Air Force Global Strike Command, the missile took off at 5:26 am (12:26 GMT) and was successful.

“A reliable test launch occurs when a test missile launches, completes its flight path within a designated safety corridor, the equipment functions properly, sensor data is collected, and the test reentry vehicle impacts where targeted,” the statement read.

“Though the reentry vehicle reached its intended target, the test and analysis data is not releasable to the public.”

Officials said the test had been scheduled three to five years ago, and this is the first such launch this year.

Decades after the Cold War, the United States still fields hundreds of Minuteman III ICBMs, dotted in silos across rural America.

Over the next 20 years, the Air Force will switch out the entirety of its Minuteman III fleet with a new missile known currently known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).