The US detonated a Minuteman III missile without a warhead over the Pacific Ocean because the projectile encountered problems after leaving the launch pad.

“Delta 30 unit safely destroyed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Minuteman III without a warhead in the Pacific Ocean in the early morning of November 1, due to an unusual incident after launching from the space base. Vandenberg headquarters in California,” the US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) said.

AFGSC did not release details of the incident, adding that the agency had established an analysis team to investigate the cause. “We accumulate many lessons after each launch. The data collected will help identify and fix any problems to ensure the reliability and accuracy of Minuteman III,” the AFGSC statement said.

The LGM-30 Minuteman III missile has a range of 13,000 km and has been in service since the 1970s. This is part of the US nuclear deterrence trio, alongside the Trident III missile on Ohio-class submarines and nuclear weapons Personnel to equip strategic bombers.

The US owns about 450 Minuteman III missiles placed in silos scattered across the territory, along with about 3,800 warheads in combat status and 2,000 sealed warheads.

Each Minuteman III can carry one W87 warhead with a destructive power equivalent to 450,000 tons of TNT explosives or three W78 warheads; each device has the power of 350,000 tons of TNT explosives and enough to attack separate targets.

The Minuteman III system is expected to be replaced by the LGM-35A Sentinel missile program worth $264 billion, not including new nuclear warheads. However, President Joe Biden’s administration may reconsider this project due to its high cost and shift to modernizing Minuteman III.