The US conducted its second flight test of a missile that would have been banned under the restrictions of a now-defunct arms control agreement with Russia, Air Force officials told Insider on Thursday.
The US military tested a prototype conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) Thursday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
“We are currently evaluating the results of the test,” officials told Insider.
Thursday’s missile launch marks the second such test since the US formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August in response to alleged Russian violations of the 1987 agreement.
On Aug. 18, 2019, the Defense Department conducted a flight test of a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile.
The first post-INF Treaty test was conducted in mid-August, when a conventional GLCM “exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight,” the Pentagon said at the time.
Thursday’s test saw the missile travel over 500 kilometers as well, Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said in a statement. “Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” he said.
The INF treaty prohibited the US and Russia from developing, testing, and fielding missiles with intermediate ranges, ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles). Earlier this year, the US accused Russia of violating the accord with its Novator 9M729 missile, a weapon NATO refers to as SSC-8.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said that the “Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles,” calling efforts to develop ground-launched intermediate-range missile capabilities a “prudent response to Russia’s actions.”
Esper has also indicated that the US is looking at the development of these weapon systems to counter China.
“Eighty percent plus of their [missile] inventory is intermediate-range systems,” the secretary has said, adding that it “shouldn’t surprise [China] that we would want to have a like capability.”
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