Pentagon conducts 1st land-based cruise missile test after demise of INF Treaty

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Washington DC, August 20: The United States has on Monday tested its land-based cruise missile capable of covering a 500-kilometer range, in less than three weeks of officially exiting the landmark 2015 international arms pact – International Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, that banned such operations.

According to the Pentagon statement, the launch took place on Sunday at around 2:30 PM (pacific time) at San Nicolas Island Calfornia. The missile “exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight,” the statement read.

Pentagon statement further read: “Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”

However, American officials have stressed they don’t plan on creating a ground-based nuclear cruise missile capability but, acting secretary of defence Mark Esper has claimed his department will “fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions and as part of the joint force’s broader portfolio of conventional strike options”.

A Pentagon spokesperson, Lt Col Robert Carver, said, “The launcher used in Sunday’s test is a MK 41; however, the system tested is not the same as the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System currently operating in Romania and under construction in Poland.”

He added Aegis Ashore was purely defensive and was not capable of firing a Tomahawk missile. Aegis Ashore is not configured to fire offensive weapons of any type.

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