The US has authorized $58 million in funding for the development of active defenses to counter INF-range ground-launched missile systems; counterforce capabilities to prevent attacks from these missiles, and countervailing strike capabilities to enhance the capabilities of the United States.
The US has begun development of giant cannons which will have a range of 1000 miles (1852 kilometers). Conventional artillery would have those ranges but usually nuclear weapons would need to be larger. Although 155 mm tactical nuclear weapons that could be fired from 155mm through 400mm artillery. The 155mm nuclear shell had the equivalent of 100 ton explosive nuclear weapon.
The trend of foreign, heavy MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) is to fire well over 100 kilometers (60+ miles).
The US recently doubled the range of army artillery to 38 miles. The Army has successfully fired a 155mm artillery round 62 kilometers (38.5 miles). The Army is now prototyping artillery weapons with a larger caliber tube and new grooves to hang weights for gravity adjustments to the weapon – which is a modified M777A2 mobile howitzer. The new ERCA weapon is designed to hit ranges greater than 70km (43.5 miles). The Russian military is currently producing its latest howitzer cannon, the 2S33 Msta-SM2 variant; it is a new 2A79 152mm cannon able to hit ranges greater than 40km.
In 2016, South Korean defense contractor Poongsan revealed its own ramjet artillery shell concept, which had an estimated range of nearly 50 miles. Norway has a ramjet artillery shell with a 60-mile range.
Ballistic missiles can also fly to less than their maximum range if they fly along a depressed trajectory or a lofted trajectory, if they carry a heavier payload, or if they consume only part of their fuel. This was not banned.
China has not signed onto this treaty and had mid-ranged land-based missiles, drones and is now developing railguns and electromagnetic launchers to boost the range of missiles.
Russia calls Drones missiles but US calls them planes
Russia claims that U.S. armed drones violate the INF Treaty because they are consistent with the treaty’s definition of a ground-launched cruise missile. The treaty defines a cruise missile as “an unmanned, self-propelled vehicle that sustains flight through the use of aerodynamic lift over most of its flight path.” It further specifies that a ground-launched cruise missile banned by the treaty means “a ground-launched cruise missile that is a weapon-delivery vehicle.”
The US position is that yes drones sustain flight through the use of aerodynamic lift but they do not necessarily meet the treaty’s definition of unmanned and self-propelled. Although drones do not have pilots on board, they are piloted remotely, with pilots based at facilities on the ground. Armed drones can deliver weapons to targets, they are platforms that carry weapons, not weapons themselves. Unlike a cruise missile with a separate launcher that remains behind after releasing the missile, a drone is self-contained, and takes off and lands like an aircraft. Further, although cruise missiles are destroyed when delivering their payload, drones release their payload then return to base, like an aircraft. Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Brian McKeon summed this up during recent congressional testimony when he noted that drones are not missiles, they are “two-way, reusable systems.
History of INF and what missiles were banned
The United States and Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in December 1987. Negotiations on this treaty were the result of a “dual-track” decision taken by NATO in 1979. At that time, the Soviet Union’s deployed of new intermediate-range nuclear missiles first and NATO and the USA agreed both to accept deployment of new U.S. intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles and to support U.S. efforts to negotiate with the Soviet Union to limit these missiles. In the INF Treaty, the United States and Soviet Union agreed that they would ban all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The ban would apply to missiles with nuclear or conventional warheads, but would not apply to sea-based or air-delivered missiles. The INF Treaty did not ban the possession or testing and production of missile defense interceptors, even if they flew to ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
For the Soviet Union, the list of eliminated weapons included the SS20 intermediate-range missile, and the SS-4 and the SS-5 shorter-range missiles. The Soviet Union also agreed to destroy a range of older nuclear missiles, as well as the mobile, short-range SS-23, a system developed and deployed in the early 1980s. For the United States, the list of banned missiles included the new Pershing II ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles, along with several hundred older Pershing I missiles that were in storage in Europe.
There is a Congressional Research Service report – Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty : Background and Issues for Congress. Amy F. Woolf. Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy. Updated October 5, 2018. (45 pages).
The U.S. State Department, in the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 editions of its report Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, stated that the United States has determined that “the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the [1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces] INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.” In the 2016 report, it noted that “the cruise missile developed by Russia meets the INF Treaty definition of a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, and as such, all missiles of that type, and all launchers of the type used or tested to launch such a missile, are prohibited under the provisions of the INF Treaty.” The 2017 and 2018 compliance reports describe the types of information the United States has provided to Russia in pressing its claim of noncompliance, including, in 2018, the Russian designator for the missile—9M729. Press reports also indicate that Russia has now begun to deploy the new cruise missile.
The Obama Administration raised its concerns about Russian compliance with the INF Treaty in a number of meetings since 2013. These meetings made little progress because Russia continued to deny that it had violated the treaty. In October 2016, the United States called a meeting of the Special Verification Commission, which was established by the INF Treaty to address compliance concerns. During this meeting, in mid-November, both sides raised their concerns, but they failed to make any progress in resolving them. A second SVC meeting was held in December 2017.