Last Updated on August 21, 2019
A new video from the Department of Defense shows the U.S. military conducting the first successful test of a ground-launched cruise missile with a conventional payload since 1987.
President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Reagan-era Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) earlier this month after citing Russian noncompliance with treaty regulations, allowing the U.S. military to conduct cruise missile tests for the first time in over 30 years.
The Department of Defense wasted no time in taking advantage of the new protocols, as explosive footage was released on Sunday of a new Tomahawk cruise missile variant being successfully tested of the shores of San Nicolas Island near Los Angeles, California.
The Pentagon stated that the test missile “exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers [310 miles] of flight,” adding, “data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
Footage of the missile’s ignition can be seen below:
The test missile was fired from the Mark 41 Vertical Launch System, and was reportedly a variant of the venerable Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. The Pentagon said the new Tomahawk was outfitted with a conventionally armed test warhead.
Such munitions were previously banned under the INF, which the U.S. pulled out of after accusing Russia of conducting illegal tests of their own SSC-8 ground-launched cruise missile.
As CNBC reported earlier this month:
The 1987 Reagan-era treaty ended after Moscow refused to destroy its new intermediate-range SSC-8 cruise missile that Washington said violated the INF.
The SSC-8 missile can be tipped with conventional or nuclear explosives.
President Donald Trump announced in February that he would end the agreement unless Russia mothballed the missile system. At the time, Trump added that if Russia didn’t comply, the U.S. would “move forward with developing our own military response options” to Russia’s SSC-8.
In a statement Friday, which confirmed the U.S. withdrawal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia was “solely responsible for the treaty’s demise” and that U.S. efforts to seek compromise had been continuously rejected by the Kremlin.
At press time, the Russian government has not commented on Sunday’s San Nicolas missile test.