The launch of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile, the US Air Force’s Minuteman 3 (ICBM), has been described by the Joe Biden administration as a routine test unrelated to current world events. But the training, held in the early hours of Tuesday (16), sounds like a message: the country is ready for the use of nuclear weapons.
At least this is the thesis that prevailed for Russia, an ally of China, which, according to a report in Folha de S. Paulo, accused Washington of deliberately provoking the Chinese government. The test had already been postponed to avoid tensions with the Chinese government after Nancy’s visit. Pelosi The Taiwan.
On the other hand, in an official statement, the US Air Force stated that other unarmed missile tests have taken place hundreds of times before and serve to provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the country’s nuclear deterrent.
“This test launch is part of routine and periodic activities designed to demonstrate that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, reliable and effective to deter 21st century threats and reassure our allies,” the US statement said.
But, after all, what is the real firepower of the missile?
Launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at around 0:49 am on Tuesday, the missile traveled nearly 7,000 kilometers across the Pacific Ocean to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
However, overall, a Minuteman 3 missile has a range of more than 9,500 kilometers, at a speed that can reach 24,000 km/h.
Missiles of this class have three engines, solid rocket propulsion and can carry up to three nuclear warheads capable of hitting different targets at the same time and miles away from each other.
It is capable of carrying up to three payloads, but carries a single nuclear warhead respecting the arms control agreements between the United States and Russia.
Possibly the missiles are equipped with a VR Mark 21 with penetration aids and warhead from 300 to 475 nuclear kilotons (kT), which gives the target a high power of destruction.
according to AsapSciencewhen a 300-kiloton nuclear bomb hits its target, people in the center of the blast (up to 800 meters from where the missile hits) can be killed immediately, while others can suffer up to third-degree burns even from kilometers away.
In addition to the incalculable number of lives at risk, he is capable of destroying entire cities.
According to official data from the US Air Force, the Minuteman is a strategic weapons system that uses an intercontinental-range ballistic missile.
These missiles are housed in reinforced silos to protect against attacks and are connected to an underground launch control center via a reinforced cable system.
The launch team consists of two military personnel and modern communication systems that allow direct contact between the team and the US President and Secretary of Defense.
Thus, if command capability is lost between the launch control center and remote missile launch facilities, aircraft from the air launch control center specially trained for the mission assume command and control of the missile under presidential order. .
Almost 60 years have passed since the first version of Minuteman. Today, there are 400 units of Minuteman 3, distributed in the country’s air bases.
Sarmat, a worthy competitor
The power of the United States’ intercontinental missiles finds serious competition in the Russian nuclear arsenal. It is known that of the nearly 14,000 world nuclear warheads, at least 90% of them are in the possession of the US and Russia.
In April of this year, amid tensions with the West arising from the invasion of Ukraine, Russia also announced tests with a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile: the Sarmat.
At the time, the missile was fired from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a military base in the northwest of the country. According to a statement from Vladimir Putin, the missile traveled more than 5,400 kilometers to the Kamchatka peninsula, in the Russian far east. The distance traveled by the missile would be capable of reaching any country in Western Europe.
It weighs over 200 tons and can carry 10 to 15 nuclear warheads. It is also super powerful because it has an autonomous navigation system, which allows a flight of 18 thousand kilometers.
That is, this deadly machine is capable of crossing entire continents, without being able to be stopped by any existing anti-missile shield.
“Sarmat is the most powerful missile with the longest range in the world to hit targets, which will significantly increase the combat power of our country’s strategic nuclear forces,” said the Russian Defense Ministry.