Moscow, August 20 (RHC)-- The U.S. military has tested a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of over 500 km, the Pentagon confirmed. Such weapons were banned under the INF arms control treaty, which Washington exited this month.
According to rt.com -- Russia Today -- the flight test of a “conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile” was conducted on August 18th at a range on San Nicolas Island, California. The US Department of Defense has announced that after a successful launch, the missile struck its target more than 500km (310 miles) away.
Photos and video of the test launch suggested that the missile in question was a Tomahawk, an existing U.S. cruise missile normally launched from ships and submarines. This was confirmed later in the day by Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Robert Carver.
Use of the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System in the test is of particular significance, since those are the launchers positioned at U.S. missile defense sites in Poland and Romania. Russia has cited the existence of these sites as a threat and a violation of the INF by the United States, since the launchers can fire both Tomahawks and SM-3 defensive missiles, as the Pentagon just demonstrated.
In February this year, the U.S. announced it was quitting the treaty, accusing Russia of having a non-compliant missile system. Moscow denied the accusations and invited inspections of the system, but no one took it up on the offer. The treaty expired on August 1st.