U.S. Air Force test-fires intercontinental ballistic missile across Pacific

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 8 (UPI) — The United States Air Force test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Monday, the same day North Korea fired three midrange missiles into the Sea of Japan.

The test of the unarmed Minuteman III ICBM at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., comes at a time when President Obama has called for extended deterrence measures and reaffirmed U.S. commitment to the defense of regional Asian allies.

The missile’s re-entry vehicle contained a telemetry package for operational testing and traveled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to the U.S. Air Force.

Col. Craig Ramsey, the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, said the launch followed an “enormous reconfiguration of range assets that took six months to complete.”

The launch was the first of its kind since late February, NBC affiliate KSBY-TV reported.

There were five launches in January and February before scheduled downtime, which was for the purpose of relocating launch equipment, according to the television network.

The Minuteman launch also came a few hours after the firing of North Korea missiles – a possible indication the U.S. test was conducted as a warning to Pyongyang’s continued provocations, according to Yonhap news agency.

The United States has consistently warned of more defense measures against Pyongyang if the country continued to pursue weapons tests.

“North Korea needs to know that provocations will only invite more pressure and further deepen its isolation,” U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday.

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