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​An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM launches from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on April 26, 2017. Air Force photo by SrA. Ian Dudley.

​The Air Force launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., just after midnight Wednesday. The missile was launched as an operational test at 12:03 a.m. Pacific time, according to an Air Force Global Strike Command release. The launch was “an important demonstration of our nation’s nuclear deterrent capability,” Col. John Moss, 30th Space Wing commander, said in the release. The Air Force regularly picks a Minuteman III missile from its fleet and a crew from across AFGSC to conduct a test launch, with the last test held in February.