Thursday, 21 March, 2019

U.S. looks to test ground-launched cruise missile in August

US,missiles,military Pentagon eager to test banned missiles after discarding Cold War-era nuke treaty
Steven Clarke | 16 March, 2019, 11:35

U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Treaty due to Russia's violation on February 1. Washington is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russian Federation returns to "real and verifiable" compliance, he said.

It's unclear if the United States will develop an all-new missile booster for the new IRBM or if the payload will be a hypersonic weapon. This corresponds to Pentagon's earlier statement, in which the Department said its missile efforts are "conventional only - not nuclear".

General Ben Hodges, former commander of United States Army Europe (USAREUR), has suggested that after leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the US will increase the potential of its missile defence system in Europe without focusing on deploying its cruise missiles to the continent.

The envoy claimed that all decisions over the INF pact were made before the withdrawal of Washington was even announced.

The INF Treaty required the parties to dismantle the ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of ranges between 500 to 5,500 miles.

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The defense officials said USA allies in Europe and Asia have not yet been consulted about deploying either new missile on their territory.

Washington has not spoken to any European or Asian allies about the possibility of hosting the missile on their territory, according to the defense officials.

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. It may be tested as soon as November 2019, but would likely not see deployment for five years after that. "We need high-precision missiles and we are not going to repeat the mistakes of the Budapest memorandum", he added in a reference to the 1994 agreement which led to Ukraine dismantling its large Soviet-era nuclear arsenal. NATO is now studying the implications of the demise of the INF treaty and possible military responses. Washington on many occasions had accused Russian Federation of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington's non-compliance.

The senior defense official said the Pentagon would stand down with the tests if Russian Federation were to come back into compliance and the treaty survived.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated Moscow's position on the INF, explaining that Russia was forced to suspend its participation in the Treaty in response to the USA actions "when we entered the phase of harsh disagreements with the Americans on the INF". "If the Russians come back in, in August we wouldn't do the test", the official said.

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