US test fires ballistic missile from California coastal base

The Minuteman III missile test launch occurred at 12:02 a.m. PDT from the base northwest of Santa Barbara, according to Air Force Global Strike Command. The Air Force launched an intercontinental ballistic missile April 26, after it was originally planned to launch last fall.

A team of Air Force Global Strike Command airmen carried out the launch from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. Malmstrom Air Force Base is one of three bases in the US that house Minuteman III ICBMs.

North Korea has stepped up its missile testing in recent weeks, having launched at least seven short- and mid-range projectiles this year.

A US Air Force spokesman said the mission was part of a programme to test the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the Minuteman III weapons system.

30th Space Wing commander colonel Chris Moss said: "The dedication and expertise of the combined 341st Missile Wing, 576th Flight Test Squadron and 30th Space Wing team is simply unbelievable".

The launches came amid US expressions of concern about North Korea's nuclear capability.




The test comes just days after North Korea attempted a missile test of its own - but failed - as tensions remain high in the region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday he hoped the first-ever change to the country's 70-year-old pacifist constitution would be enacted by 2020, and that it would enshrine the status of the military.

The US designates North Korea as one of its top national security concerns.

Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency said: "The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war".

A Minuteman III ballistic missile blasts off from a U.S. military base. Once fielded, it will add capability boosts to U.S. Air Force air superiority and further support coalition efforts downrange.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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