The US Marines Corps has activated its first Tomahawk cruise missile battery, a system previously banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the US withdrew from in 2019.
The INF treaty banned ground-launch missile systems with a range between 310 to 3,400 miles. The new Marines Corps missile battery will use Tomahawk missiles with a range of about 1,000 miles.
According to USNI News, the battery is the first of four Long-Range Missile (LMSL) batteries the Marines plan to procure. The first battery was activated at a base in California. The batteries will likely eventually be deployed in Japan or other areas in Asia where the missiles can reach China.
The US withdrew from the INF treaty over claims that Russia violated the agreement by developing the 9M729 cruise missile. Moscow insisted the 9M729 complied with the INF, but the Trump administration denied Russia’s claim and tore up the treaty.
Russia also accused the US of potentially violating the INF by establishing Aegis Ashore missile defense systems in Romania and Poland. The systems use Mk-41 vertical launchers, which can fit Tomahawk missiles.
The new battery activated by the Marines uses an Mk-41 launch system cell, demonstrating that the Russian concerns about the Aegis Systems are not unfounded. The US formally exited the INF treaty on August 2, 2019, and began testing INF-range missiles with ground-based Mk-41 launchers just a few weeks later.