MOSCOW, December 27 (Itar-Tass) —— The Russian Strategic Rocket Forces made a successful test launch of an RS-18 (NATO codename Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday, Forces spokesman Col. Vadim Koval told Itar-Tass.
“An RS-18 missile was launched from Baikonur at 4:00 p.m. Moscow time on Tuesday to confirm the stability of its main parameters in the period of useful life extended to 32 years and to evaluate the possibility to extend the useful life further to 33 years. The launch was successful,” he said. “The missile was manufactured in 1978 and stayed on combat duty in Tatishchevo and Kozelsk from 1979 through 2009.”
“The RS-18 useful life was extended by the order of the Russian Defense Ministry by a large number of designers and producers led by NPO Machine Building,” Koval said.
The RS-18 missiles, which replaced three generations of universal missiles of Project UR-100 designed under the guidance of Academician Vladimir Chelomei, “became a landmark event in the development of the Strategic Rocket Forces,” he said, adding that it was the most reliable nuclear missile of the period.
“Fueled and encapsulated missiles, which require no maintenance until their removal from combat duty, are kept in highly protected silos,” the spokesman said.
The RS-18 is one of the best intercontinental ballistic missiles of Russia. The research and development works began in 1967, and the first RS-18 regiment was put on combat duty in 1979. The missile consists of the third and second stages, the connecting and instrument blocks, and the warhead. It carries an automated control system. Its warheads separate during the flight and hit designated targets.
The RS-18 is capable of passing through missile defense. It carries six individually targeted warheads and has the maximal shooting range of 10,000 kilometers, the warhead precision of 350 meters, the takeoff weight of 106 tonnes, and the warhead weight of 4.3 tonnes. According to open sources, the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces have about 160 RS-18 missiles at present.