The US has conducted an unarmed nuclear missile test from California in what is being seen as a none-too-subtle sign to particularly China and North Korea to respect its borders.
The test comes days after a Chinese balloon was shot down in US waters and North Korea paraded some of its missiles through Pyongyang.
The test of a Minuteman III missile happened at 11:01pm. California time (6pm Friday, AEDT) from Vandenberg Space Force Base, north of Los Angeles, the base announced on Friday, reported Fox News.
But officials have insisted it was a “routine” activity “intended to demonstrate that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective,” according to the announcement.
“A test launch displays the heart of our deterrence mission on the world’s stage, assuring our nation and its allies that our weapons are capable and our airmen are ready and willing to defend peace across the globe at a moment’s notice,” said General Thomas A. Bussiere, Air Force Global Strike Command commander.
The Air Force said the missile’s test re-entry vehicle travelled approximately 6800km to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, showing the “accuracy and reliability” of the US’ military hardware.
“This launch showcases the redundancy and reliability of our strategic deterrence systems while sending a visible message of assurance to allies,” said Colonel Christopher Cruise, 377th Test and Evaluation Group commander.
“This multilateral team reflects the precision and professionalism of our command, and our joint partners,” Colonel Cruise added.
The test launch comes days after the US government shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina. The balloon, which travelled across the continental United States before it was taken out, has been linked to a surveillance program run by the People’s Republic of China military.
It also follows a show of force from North Korea’s military, which paraded up to 12 individual Hwasong-17 missile launchers, website Politico reported.
Officials said the launch was planned months in advance across multiple Air Forces agencies.
Department of Defence press secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters on Wednesday the US had been tracking China’s surveillance practices before the latest balloon arrived stateside last week.
“We are now learning more about the scale of this Chinese balloon surveillance program, which US intelligence and the Pentagon have been observing for several years,” he said.
“Our awareness and understanding of this capability has increased.”
“When you look at the scope of this program — operating over at least five continents in regions like Latin America, South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe — again, it demonstrates why, for the Department of Defence, that China remains the pacing challenge and something that we’ll continue to stay focused on,” Gen Ryder added.
This story appeared on Fox News and is reproduced with permission.