The US military conducted a flight test of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile off the western coast of the US Sunday, a missile test that would have been previously banned under the now defunct Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Pentagon said Monday.
“The Department of Defense conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile off the US West Coast Sunday. We are currently evaluating the results of the test,” Lt. Col. Carla Gleason told CNN.
The test was conducted from San Nicolas Island, California, and the Pentagon said that “the test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight.”
Officials stressed that the missile is designed to carry a conventional and not a nuclear payload.
US defense officials said that “data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
A US defense official said the test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and impacted its target and that data collected from the test “will inform our development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
The US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Moscow earlier this month after years of accusing Russia of violating the treaty via its deployment of its nuclear-capable SSC-8 missile, putting an end to a landmark arms control pact that has limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
If the US were to proceed with developing a fully operational mobile ground launched cruise missile system, a key unresolved question is where it would be deployed.