The Pentagon plans to begin flight tests this year of two types of missiles that have been banned for more than 30 years by a treaty from which both the United States and Russia are expected to withdraw in August, defense officials said Wednesday, AP reported.
By moving forward with these missile projects, the Pentagon is not excluding the possibility that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty could still survive, although it likely will be terminated in August. At that point, Washington and Moscow would no longer face legal constraints on deploying land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,410 miles). The INF treaty has been in effect since 1987.
The U.S. cruise missile is likely to be flight-tested in August, one official said, adding that it might be ready for deployment within 18 months. The longer-range ballistic missile is expected to be tested in November, with deployment not likely for five years or more, the official said. If Russia and the U.S. were to reach a deal to rescue the INF treaty before August, these projects would not go forward.