According to a plan earlier greenlighted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, existing missiles will be modified, and new ones created, within two years’ time.
“Within 2019-2020 we must develop a land-based version of the ship-based Kalibr complex,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a ministry briefing. A land-based longer-range hypersonic missile complex is expected to be created within the same time limit.
The steps are being taken as a response to the US suspending its participation in the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaty and aiming to withdraw completely in six months.
Washington is “actively working to create land-based missiles with a range of over 500km,” which has caused Putin to order a “mirror response,” Shoigu said. The INF treaty banned all land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500km.
Russia’s newest Kalibr cruise missile, with a range of over 1,500km, proved itself in strikes at terrorist targets during the Russian campaign in Syria. It is normally launched from submarines or surface vessels, but now, with the INF’s constraints lifted, it can be moved to land.
“By using sea- and air-based missiles on land, we can significantly cut down the new missiles’ building time and cost,” Shoigu told the briefing. He also said the range of land-based missile complexes that are currently in development will need to be increased, as well.
The US has been accusing Russia of violating the INF treaty by testing and deploying the 9M729 missile – which Moscow says does not breach the treaty’s terms. Both have now suspended their participation, with the US giving Russia a six-month deadline to stop its presumed “violations.”
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