Written by Dabney B. on Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Technology is progressing at a break-neck pace. Engineers are trying to figure out how to equip battleships with lasers, remote-controlled drones are buzzing around the skies, and cyber warfare has become the new big thing in 2012.
With all of this new hardware, it’s easy to forget about the classic weapons of massive destruction: nukes. ICBMs don’t get quite as much press as they did during the Cold War, but they’re still around. They’ve been sitting patiently in their hidden missile silos while the rest of the world has been busily inventing things like iPhones and Twitter.
Technology may have progressed in leaps and bounds since the first combat application of a WMD in 1945, but they’re still as powerful as ever. In fact, nuclear missiles seem to be the one thing that hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years. They’ve been upgraded and their range has been enhanced, but at their core they’re still the same basic weapon.
Missile defense technology hasn’t changed that much, either. It’s still the case that the most reliable way to take down an incoming ICBM is to strike it with another missile. Our WMD and missile defense weapons have been collecting dust for the past couple of decades, but are they still up to snuff?
Just recently, the missile team at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California pulled out all the stops by performing a full trial run of a Minuteman III ICBM. If the President ever has to press that flashing red button and send us into a nuclear war, it’s Minuteman III missiles that will soar across the world to their intended targets. A Minuteman III has a range of 6,000 miles and a top speed of 15,000 mph. It can carry three Mk-12 or Mk-12A warheads.
So, how well did it perform? See for yourself:
The missile eventually crashed harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean. The launch went admirably, and unlike North Korea we’ve got the video footage to prove it. But the Pentagon didn’t just the Minuteman III – they also tested the Airborne Launch Control System, a launching system that allows the Commander-in-Chief to remotely launch ICBMs. So, if push comes to nuclear shove, it looks like the US has the firepower to take down any potential threat.
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