The Minuteman III came into service in 1970. The last nuclear weapon deployed was roughly in the early 90’s and most of America’s deterrent on land still runs on floppy-disc technology. Meanwhile, Russia and China are significantly modernizing their nuclear forces while increasing them in number.
Minuteman III warhead hits 4,200 miles away in Pacific
The U.S. military carried out a flight test of a nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday, the Air Force Strike Command said in a statement.
The missile was launched from F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and its inert warhead flew 4,200 miles to an impact zone near Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands.
The flight test comes as both Russia and China are building up nuclear forces and U.S. nuclear forces are facing a difficult modernization program in the face of severe defense budget cuts.
A forthcoming report by the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states that China is expanding both its strategic nuclear forces and regional nuclear forces, including development of a new air-launched cruise missile that will be nuclear capable.
“In a conflict, China’s maturing theater nuclear capability could provide it with the means to flexibly employ nuclear weapons to deescalate or otherwise shape the direction of conflict,” the draft report says.
Russia’s nuclear buildup has included the addition of 111 nuclear warheads above the levels set in the 2010 U.S.-Russia New START arms treaty that requires warhead reductions to 1,550 warheads by 2018. Russia currently has 1,648 warheads, according to the latest State Department numbers.
By contrast, the U.S. nuclear arsenal has declined by 250 warheads since 2010 and is currently below the New START level of 1,550 warheads.
Russia currently is engaged in a large-scale modernization of its nuclear forces that includes new land-based missiles, including road-mobile and rail-mobile systems, new missile submarines and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and a new long-range strategic bomber.
U.S. plans for a new long-range strike bomber to replace aging B-52, B-1, and B-2 bombers has been delayed by budget cuts, as have plans for a replacement for aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines
Full article: Air Force Flight Tests Nuclear ICBM (Washington Free Beacon)