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VIDEO: US tests first ballistic missile since INF Treaty expired

On Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time, the U.S. Air Force, in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office, conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (Michael Stonecypher/30th Space Wing Public Affairs)
December 12, 2019

The U.S. tested another ground-launched long-range ballistic missile on Thursday — its first since the demise of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.

The launch took place at 8:30 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and served as a test of “a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile,” a Defense Department statement said.

The Pentagon also released video of the launch, as seen below:

“The test missile exited its static launch stand and terminated in the open ocean after more than 500 kilometers of flight,” the statement noted.

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The test was a collaboration between the U.S. Air Force and the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office.

The test comes nearly four months after the U.S. tested a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile from Vandenberg on Aug. 18.

At that time, the Pentagon confirmed the missile accurately struct its target “after more than 500 kilometers of flight.”

Both missiles may have been banned under the now-expired INF Treaty with Russia.

In an article on the treaty, NATO explained that the U.S. and Russia were forbidden from possessing, producing, or testing “a ground-launched ballistic or cruise missile” with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

The U.S. announced its withdrawal from the INF Treaty in February, citing Russia’s continued violations of the treaty and failure to return to compliance despite warnings given.

The decision took effect on Aug. 2, and was marked by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s remarks that supported the U.S. for its withdrawal and criticized Russia for not fulfilling its obligations, according to a NATO statement.

“We regret that Russia showed no willingness and took no steps to comply with its international obligations,” Stoltenberg said, adding that “no international agreement is effective if it is only respected by one side. Russia bears the sole responsibility for the demise of the Treaty.”

Pentagon officials had confirmed in March that the U.S. would proceed with development of two non-nuclear missiles to be tested late in the year after the expiration of the INF Treaty, Military Times reported at the time.

The ballistic missile was originally estimated to test launch in November, but is not expected to be deployed for at least five years.