The sky over the turbulent Pacific was pitch-black earlier this month when a Minuteman III missile blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a column of fire that illuminated the California coastline for miles.
The unarmed missile thundered past the outer reaches of the atmosphere, tracing a fiery arc around the globe before plunging into a lagoon at Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,200 miles away.
The Minuteman III tested May 3 near Lompoc is a critical element of U.S. defense strategy: a fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of obliterating any spot on Earth with a nuclear blast in 30 minutes or less.
Although the flight test proved...
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey address proposed budget cuts to the Pentagon.