Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

US Likely to Test its Ground-launched Cruise Missile this Year

US Likely to Test its Ground-launched Cruise Missile this Year

The cruise missile will possibly be flight-tested in August, according to one of the officials. Theoretically, they could be armed with nuclear warheads.

Signed in 1987 by then US President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty was widely viewed as a breakthrough in arms control.

The INF treaty required the parties to destroy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 km (310 to 3,420 miles).

Close to the end of the Cold War, US President Ronald Reagan and USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed that nuclear war had to be prevented as it could have no victor, but only losers.

The same official said the Pentagon was also tentatively planning in November to test an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow's compliance with the Treaty on March 4.

The INF Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987, and provides for the elimination of all nuclear-armed ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that operate at ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. According to a senior defense official, it will essentially involve putting a Tomahawk missile in a container that could be placed on a ship or in a mobile launcher. Deployment of the mobile missile would require procuring the system and training and equipping the forces that operate it. The tests are expected to take place at or after August.

Arms control advocates and Democrats in Congress have questioned the wisdom of leaving the INF treaty, while accepting USA allegations that Russian Federation is violating it by deploying a cruise missile that can target American allies in Europe.

The contract, from U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and announced on Wednesday, is valued at $250 million.

"We haven't engaged any of our allies about forward deployment", the USA defense official said. "But it's always going to be deployable".

The United States deployed a mobile ground-launch cruise missile known as the BGM-109G Gryphon in Europe during the Cold War, but the Pentagon withdrew the weapon as a result of the INF Treaty's restrictions. The test comes as the Army also explores developing longer-range missiles.

Neither of the missiles will be nuclear-armed, the officials added.

German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier said, in turn, that he does not rule out a new arms race in the event of the termination of the agreement.

However, he thinks it could be possible that the Trump administration was simply arranging for an end of the INF treaty. Russian Federation also accused USA of breaking the 1987 pact, allegations that U.S. has denied. "You have already heard about the results of the tests we have held, but we adhered to certain restrictions imposed on us by the INF Treaty", the president said.

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