This is a test launch of the LGM-30G Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
If you’d like to know just how much of a monster the Minuteman is, allow Foxtrot Alpha to educate:
The Minutemen III is the backbone of America’s land-based portion of its Nuclear Triad. Some 450 LGM-30Gs are stationed in their hardened underground silos in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, each capable of carrying up to three Multiple Independently Targeted Reentry Vehicles (MIRVS) and can also carry a series of decoys and radar reflective chaff to confuse enemy radars and anti-ballistic missile systems. The missile’s stated range is just over 8,000 miles, but its exact range remains classified.
Currently, the Minuteman III force “only” holds a single reentry vehicle, a result of the now defunct START II treaty. There are currently two thermonuclear warheads used with the Minuteman III inventory, the newer W87 and the older W78. These warheads have an output range of 335 to 475 kilotons of TNT equivalent.
No, you read that right: its “stated range is just over 8,000 miles” — and reading between the lines and the classified caveat, it’s probably a lot more than that.
But let’s say that the U.S. military is bluffing a tad and the “weapon of mass destruction” travels no more than 8,000 miles, on the dot. Let’s also say that it was launched from Vandenberg, with an intention of ruining someone’s country in some other continent. Where exactly could it land?
Obviously you’d factor it on an 8,000-mile pivot, but here are a few well-known cities it could reach (from California):
- Tokyo (under 6,000 miles away)
- Moscow (under 7,000 miles away)
- Pyongyang, North Korea (under 6,000 miles away)
- Damascus, Syria (just under 8,000 miles away)
- Beijing, China (under 7,000 miles away)
Not that anyone’s condoning launching one of these bad boys at any of these cities (and most certainly ending humanity’s fruitful run on this planet). Just trying to paint a clear picture of how insanely powerful this rocket is in the video above.