21:42 GMT +316 December 2018
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    USS Thomas Hudner during acceptance trials.

    US Navy Commissions Destroyer Capable of Carrying INF-Violating Missiles

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    Moscow and Washington's European allies have urged the US not to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, saying it could draw entire regions of the world into an arms race and compromise European security.

    The US Navy commissioned the USS Thomas Hudner guided-missile destroyer in Boston on Saturday, with the vessel becoming the 66th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer deployed, and the first to contain elements of the planned next generation upgrade of the warship.

    The $663 million destroyer, named after a US Navy pilot who received a Medal of Honor in the Korean War, is equipped with powerful Aegis radar systems, and can carry up to 96 Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range 2,500 km onboard. Aegis missile defence missiles, which can be deployed alongside or in place of the Tomahawks, are said to be capable of intercepting ballistic missiles during their terminal descent phase, with this ship-based system serving as a key component of the Pentagon's ambitious global ballistic missile defence plans.

    The US reportedly retired its nuclear-capable land attack Tomahawks in the early 2010s. However, earlier this year, it was reported that the Navy was mulling reintroducing a nuclear-tipped cruise missile with a yield of 200 kilotons sometime in the near future.

    Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are capable of operating both independently and as part of a larger naval strike group. The US Navy currently plans to increase its complement of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to 75 warships.

    In October, President Donald Trump voiced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibits the US and Russia from fielding ground-based nuclear ballistic and cruise missiles in the 500-5,500 km range after accusing Russia of violating the treaty's conditions. Russia has denied the allegations, and pointed to obvious examples of US violations of the INF, including the US deployment of its dual-use missile defence shield in Romania and Poland.

    Last month, Sputnik reported on successful US Navy testing of a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missile interceptor launched by Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John Finn, with the SM-3 capable of both sea and land-based launch and therefore constituting a direct violation of the INF.

    Related:

    Germany 'Convinced' by US Claims About Russian Violations of INF Treaty – Report
    Democratic Senators Seek to Block Trump Withdrawal From INF Missile Treaty
    US Will Address INF Treaty Withdrawal at NATO Summit – Reports
    US Using Misleading Info on INF Talks With Russia to Justify Withdrawal - Moscow
    Tags:
    missile, destroyer, warship, USS Thomas Hudner, INF Treaty, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, US Navy, United States
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