US IRBM Launch from Vandenberg -Provisional drawing
Decades after destroying the last of its intermediate range nuclear missiles to comply with the INF Treaty, the US is now one step closer to re-fielding such a capability, following the launch of an intermediate range ballistic missile from Vandenberg AFB on December 12, 2019. Work on this project began earlier this year, but details of the new missile are extremely scant, save that Northrop Grumman, which has built IRBM representative targets for missile defense testing, was the prime contractor on the project. Whether the vehicle tested is based on such previous work is unknown, but it is probably a safe bet that there was significant technology transfer, given the short time between program start and first launch. Of the flight, all that is really known is that the missile apparently successfully flew more than 500 km.
Vandenberg is no stranger to IRBM testing, as sixty one years previous to this latest test, almost to the day, the base launched it’s first missile, a Douglas PGM-17 Thor, a weapon of that class.