The U.S. fired another Boeing (BA)-made Minuteman III missile into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the second test of the nation’s nuclear arsenal in the past week amid escalated tensions with North Korea.
“It’s efforts like these that make nuclear deterrence effective,” Col. Craig Ramsey, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, said in a press release announcing the test mission.
The nuclear-capable Minuteman III was built in the 1970s with a price tag of $7 million. In current dollars, the Minuteman III would cost more than $40 million. The Air Force has made several upgrades to the Minuteman III, including modern targeting systems, since the missile’s initial production run.
A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, conducted Wednesday’s test launch shortly after 3 a.m. ET. Malmstrom Air Force Base is one of three bases in the U.S. that house Minuteman III ICBMs. The Air Force has approximately 450 of the long-range missiles in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Crew members are on alert 24 hours a day, year-round.
The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) traveled about 4,200 miles from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
In addition to the Minuteman III tests, the U.S. completed the installation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile battery in South Korea earlier this week. Also, the U.S. Navy recently deployed a strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the region.