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Wisconsin-based fighter jets, 200 airmen heading to South Korea

02 August 2017

Days after North Korea fired a rocket into the Sea of Japan, the U.S. Air Force is planning to test launch an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

"Team V is positioned to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to test launch the Minuteman III missile", said Col. Michael Hough, 30th Space Wingcommander and the launch decision authority for the mission.

The Minuteman III ICBM launch is created to "validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system".

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The bombers then performed a low-pass over Osan Air Base, South Korea, before leaving South Korean airspace and returning to Guam, the US Pacific Air Forces stated. Those two missiles traveled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean's Marshall Islands.

The four-month long deployment comes in the wake of heightened tensions in the area, prompted by a string of missile tests by North Korea.

A USA official confirmed Tuesday that a commercial airliner flew past the location where North Korea's latest ICBM would land - less than 10 minutes later - in the Sea of Japan on Friday.

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The test will come days after North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test, demonstrating the capability to conduct a 45-minute flight and one that defense experts say puts the continental United States in range of a strike from the increasingly unstable regime.

"If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing", Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, remarked after the training exercise.

Pyongyang has also been testing systems to launch missiles from submarines, and South Korean military and intelligence officials suspect the North is preparing for another missile or nuclear test, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

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