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Air Force tests conventional ground-launched ballistic missile in California

By
Christen McCurdy & Daniel Uria
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 Thursday. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
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 Thursday. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The Air Force tested a prototype of a conventionally configured ground-launched ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday morning.

A joint government-industry team began work after the United States announced its suspension of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty obligations in February.

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The Department of Defense said it conducted a flight test of the missile at about 8:30 a.m.

The missile "terminated in the open ocean" after traveling for more than 310 miles, according to the Pentagon.

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"Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense's development of future intermediate-range capabilities," the agency said.

Thursday's test marked the second launch of a ground-launched missile since the United States officially withdrew from the INF treaty in August.

The Trump administration chose to end the agreement, saying Russia violated the treaty by keeping four battalions of 9M729 cruise missiles.

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The INF treaty, brokered in 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibited intermediate-range land-based cruise and ballistic missiles. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in July suspending Russia's participation in the deal.

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper, without providing a specific timeline, said the United States would continue the development of the missiles and consult with other nations about their use.

"Once we develop intermediate-range missiles and if my commanders require them, then we will work closely and consult closely with our allies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere with regards to any possible deployments," he said.

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