US Air Force calls off missile test amid Russia-Ukraine conflict

The Washington Examiner reports that the U.S. Air Force has decided to cancel a test for an intercontinental ballistic missile. 

In short, it appears that the test was called off due to concerns that it would increase the current tension between the U.S. and Russia amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The announcement

The Air Force announced that it was calling the test off on Friday. The announcement was made by Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman.

“The Department of the Air Force recently canceled the routinely-planned test flight of an LGM-30G Minuteman III missile scheduled for March 2022,” Stefanek said.

She explained, “the launch had been previously delayed due to an overabundance of caution to avoid misinterpretation or miscommunication during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and was canceled for the same reason.”

The Air Force, though, according to Stefanek, does still plan to carry out the test later this year.

“Our next planned test flight is later this year,” Sefanek said. “The Department is confident in the readiness of the strategic forces of the United States.”

Background

Reuters reports:

The nuclear-capable Minuteman III is key part of the U.S. military’s strategic arsenal and has a range of 6,000-plus miles (9,660-plus km) and can travel at a speed of approximately 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph). Missiles are dispersed in hardened underground silos operated by launch crews.

The missile was originally supposed to be tested on March 2. But, as Stefenak said, the test was delayed because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. At the time, Russia had announced that it was putting its nuclear forces on high alert.

Some, including Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), have argued that the Biden administration is not taking the right approach here. Inhofe believes that such a missile test is an important part of the United State’s nuclear deterrent and that the delay or cancellation of the test can undermine that deterrent.

The opposing argument, the one that the Biden administration has adopted, is that such a missile test has the potential to lead to a direct confrontation with Russia, perhaps even a nuclear confrontation.

Who’s right? That’s for you to decide. One can’t help but notice, though, that weakness is what gave Russia the green light to invade Ukraine in the first place.

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