France has tested a missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload on the Rafale Fighter jet, the Air Force announced Tuesday.
The nuclear strike mission lasted 11 hours and included aerial refuelling of the Rafale.
"These real strikes are scheduled in the life of the weapon's system. They are carried out at fairly regular intervals, but remain rare because the real missile, without its warhead, is fired," Reuters quoted French Air Force spokesman Colonel Cyrille Duvivier as saying.
The French Air Force, however, declined to reveal when the tests were carried out.
ASMPA cruise missile, which is the French military's main nuclear strike weapon for aircraft, was reportedly used for the tests, The Week reported Wednesday.
The Rafale was chosen for the nuclear strike role and was equipped to carry long-range fuel tanks and fly at low levels, after a variant of the Mirage 2000 meant for the role retired in 2018.
The announcement has come days after the US pulled out a 1987 pact known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibited the US and Russia from deploying missiles with ranges in between 500km and 5,500km.
Russia released satellite images to prove the United States violated Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty two years back, after the US President Donald Trump recently announced that they are pulling out of the arms control agreement. An exclusive satellite footage published in Ruplty, released by the Russian defense ministry, shows a Raytheon Corporation plant located in Tucson, Arizona, preparing for the production of missiles prohibited under the arms control agreement
The US state department has refuted allegation of US non-compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty alleging Russia of refusing to engage in any serious discussion of US concerns on existence of a prohibited missile system with Russia. The Russian Federation has sought to deflect US concerns by accusing the United States of being the party in violation of the INF Treaty, the state department stated in a Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Factsheet published last Friday
Russia has accused US of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty by deploying Mark 41 systems capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles to Romania and Poland. According to a
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