The US Air Force conducted a launch test on a 500-kilometer ballistic missile prototype on Thursday.
This is the second mid-range missile test conducted by the United States since President Donald Trump removed the country from the Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia in February this year. Experts believe the latest release demonstrates US intent and commitment to follow a post-INF path in a clear message to North Korea, Russia and China.
Thursday's test was conducted at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in partnership with the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Capabilities. The prototype was launched from a static base and crashed into the open sea after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Details have not been revealed. In a statement, the Department of Defense reported that the data collected and lessons learned from this test "will inform the Department of Defense's development of future mid-range capabilities."
"The National Defense Strategy provides very clear direction to restore our competitive advantage in the resurgence of a major power competition, and we owe it to our country to rapidly evolve and develop our defense capabilities," said Colonel Anthony Mastalir, 30th wing commander. Air Force Space Shuttle.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper congratulated the public-private partnership that enabled the prototype to be developed and launched in less than nine months.
"The test team began work after the US suspended its INF obligations in February 2019. It usually takes 24 months to plan and execute this test. This achievement demonstrates America's ability to respond to critical national security challenges. ", tweeted Esper.
On the possibility of deploying mid-range missiles, Esper said, "Once we develop mid-range missiles and if my commanders require them, we will work closely and consult with our allies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere regarding possible deployments."
By August 18, the US had already conducted a similar test from a mobile base. The INF treaty banned missiles launched from the ground with a range of between 500 and 5,500 km.
According to Defense One, this week's test takes place two days after Lockheed Martin reported that "has successfully tested its state-of-the-art long-range missile designed for the US Army Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program.". It was fired from a multiple rocket launcher system and "flew approximately 240 kilometers to the target area," a Lockheed statement said.