Failed Test Hints We Might Not Want To Rely On ’70s-Era ICBMs

Every once in a while, the US Air Force launches a Peacemaker III into the Pacific Ocean, just to make sure they still work. Important, because they’re the only land intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) we’ve got. Bad news: the most recent test failed miserably.

A release out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California puts it lightly, DefenseTech reports:

An unarmed operational test Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was destroyed by Vandenberg’s Western Range officials July 27 after launching from here.

Air Force 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.

Whatever “flight anomaly” means is anyone’s guess — but it was sufficient reason for the AF to self-destruct the Minuteman mid-flight, spraying it over the water. Luckily, there was no warhead inside, so the people on Roi-Namur (which is a tiny Pacific island, not the home of a Superman villain) weren’t at risk.

But if you’re in the Air Force right now, you might be sweating. Our supply of Minuteman rockets is important in our The Cold War’s over, but we can still nuke the shit out of you national defence policy. Deterrence! But mutually assured destruction isn’t so mutual (or assured) if we’re sitting on a bunch of dud missiles from the disco era. And at a time when the federal government can barely afford to pay for its morning oatmeal, the prospect of a new line of replacement ICBMs isn’t likely to take off. [DefenseTech]

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