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Minuteman III ICBM launch ends in failure

A file photo of LGM-30G Minuteman III. Photo: US Air Force.

WASHINGTON (BNS): The US military Wednesday destroyed one of its unarmed operational Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) over the Pacific Ocean after it malfunctioned during a test launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

US Air Force (USAF) controllers detected a flight anomaly and terminated the flight for safety reasons. When terminated, the vehicle was in the broad ocean area, northeast of Roi-Namur, according to a news report by the USAF.

"Established parameters were exceeded, and controllers sent destruct commands," Col. Matthew Carroll, the 30th Space Wing chief of safety, was quoted as saying in the report.

The missile blasted off from the base on time at 3:01 A.M and was supposed to travel about 4200 miles southwest to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, but did not reach its target.

The launch was an operational test to determine the weapon system's reliability and accuracy.

There were no details on what went wrong, and a Vandenberg spokesman said there won't be any further information until Thursday. The Air Force team is currently investigating the cause of the anomaly.

The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of intercontinental range. Missiles are dispersed in hardened silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center through a system of hardened cables. Launch crews, consisting of two officers, perform around-the-clock alert in the launch control center.

The Minuteman programme is controlled by the Air Force Global Strike Command at Louisiana's Barksdale Air Force Base.


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