US Scraps Minuteman III Test After Launch Initially Postponed Over Russia Nuclear Tensions
21:15 GMT 01.04.2022 (Updated: 22:32 GMT 01.04.2022)
© AP Photo / Charlie RiedelIn this photo taken June 25, 2014, an inert Minuteman 3 missile is seen in a training launch tube at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
© AP Photo / Charlie Riedel
While Russia's massive nuclear arsenal remains on high alert, Moscow has asserted it would only use the highly destructive weapons if the country's existence was directly threatened.
The United States has decided to cancel a previously postponed test of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), as tensions with the Russia Federation remain high, the US Air Force confirmed to Sputnik on Friday.
"The Department of the Air Force recently cancelled the routinely planned test flight of an LGM-30G Minuteman III missile scheduled for March 2022," US Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told Sputnik in a statement.
"The launch had been previously delayed due to an overabundance of caution to avoid misinterpretation or miscommunication during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and was cancelled for the same reason. Our next planned test flight is later this year. The Department is confident in the readiness of the strategic forces of the United States," she added.
The launching of an LGM-30G Minuteman III had been scheduled far in advance for the first weekend of March, but the Pentagon decided to delay the test after Russia put its nuclear forces on high alert amid rising tensions with the NATO alliance. Days earlier, Russia had launched its special operation in Ukraine aimed at neutralizing the country's military and denying it the opportunity to serve as a NATO base from which to attack Russia, and it was unclear if NATO would attempt to intervene.
The US has not yet raised its own nuclear alert status, saying it sees no signs Russia is likely to use a nuclear weapon.
The US regularly fires several Minuteman missiles each year without their normal load of nuclear warheads in order to test the aging rocket's launch, flight and guidance systems. The missiles typically launch from the US West Coast and land in Kwajalein Atoll, thousands of miles away in the South Pacific. The missiles have been the basis of the US' land-based nuclear deterrent since 1970, and their replacement, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, is expected to begin replacing them by 2030.