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Cruise Missile Test Fired Over Canada

January 22, 1986|United Press International

VANCOUVER, Canada — An unarmed U.S. cruise missile was launched from a B-52 bomber over the Beaufort Sea today and streaked across 1,500 miles of frozen northwest Canada for a landing.

The test, one of several permitted under a U.S.-Canadian defense pact, prompted a protest by about a dozen peace activists outside a Canadian Forces air base at Cold Lake, about 150 miles northeast of Edmonton, Alberta.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested four demonstrators for refusing to remove a banner stretched across the base entrance. All four were charged with obstructing police.

The Greenpeace environmental group sought to disrupt the morning shift change at the base by blocking the front gate. Base workers, however, came to work early, and the protest had little effect.

Test of Canadian Jets

The test provoked few other protests across Canada.

Today's test was to evaluate the missile's ability to hug terrain similar to that of Siberia and to assess the ability of Canadian fighter jets to intercept incoming Soviet missiles.

The B-52 left Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Michigan at 1:30 a.m. with the unarmed, 20-foot-long gray missile suspended from its wing. It refueled in midair over the North Dakota-Manitoba border, then flew north to a Beaufort Sea rendezvous with U.S. and Canadian support planes.

The missile launch was delayed more than an hour, until 10:39 a.m., while military officials waited for weather to improve over the test range.

Ninety minutes after the launch, two Canadian fighter jets left Cold Lake to intercept the missile. A U.S. fighter jet from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma was assigned to follow the missile to make sure that the 50-mile-wide test corridor stayed clear.

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