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US conducts test flight of unarmed Minuteman 3 missile

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VANDENBERG (AP): An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was launched from California early Tuesday on a test flight to a target in the Pacific Ocean, the Air Force Global Strike Command said.

The missile blasted off at 12:21 am from Vandenberg Air Force Base and its three re-entry vehicles travelled 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometres) to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands as part of a developmental test, the command said from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Test launches are essential to sustaining the aging Minuteman 3 nuclear weapon system, Colonel Omar Colbert, the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, said in a statement.

The Air Force said test launches are not a reaction to world events.

The launch calendars are developed three to five years in advance, and planning for individual launches takes six months to a year.

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