On December 12th, the US Department of Defense tested a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile.
The test was carried out by the US Air Force, in conjunction with the Strategic Capabilities Office, at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The test missile exited its static launch stand and terminated in the open ocean after more than 500 kilometers of flight.
Essentially, if its range is around 500 km, the missile would be in breach of the INF, while the Pentagon’s statement further admits that the “data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
Thus, it is another missile that was developed entirely in breach of the INF and in preparation for its abolishment by Washington.
Defense News asked Pentagon spokesman Robert Carver for further comment, but he refused to go into detail regarding the missile.
He only said that Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems was “the primary launch services contractor behind the execution of the mission.” That branch of Northrop is a major supplier of both solid-fuel rocket propulsion systems, missile interceptor boosters and target vehicles for missile defense tests.
A test in August, the first post-INF Treaty test of a ground-based cruise missile, involved a variant of the Tomahawk land-attack weapon launched from a Mark 41 Vertical Launch System. The Mk41 Vertical Launch System is the same used in the Aegis Ashore coastal defense systems, deployed in Romania, and soon in Poland.
The prototypes used in the tests could eventually carry a nuclear warhead.
“What we’ve been working on over the past several months is some research and development work for what could become a non-INF-compliant weapon system, should we get to [that] point. So, we’ve postured ourselves for this possibility that we may find ourselves at a point in the near future where we’re not obligated by the INF Treaty,” Vice Adm. Dave Kriete, deputy commander of US Strategic Command, told reporters on July 31st. “That’s just prudent military planning.”
Thus, the US was not only planning in advance to withdraw from the INF Treaty, it was developing a plethora of weapons in breach of it, for when the time comes to simply exit and justify it with Russia’s non-compliance. This test came two days after Lockheed Martin tested its Precision Strike Missile, which was also developed in breach of the INF Treaty.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Lockheed Martin’s Precision Strike Missile, Banned Under INF, Passes Tests
- China Rejects Expanded INF Treaty, John Bolton Says New START Will Fall Apart By 2021
- Russia Suspends INF Treaty With US – Kremlin