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Key facts about Russia’s Topol intercontinental ballistic missile

February 07, 18:27 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The first test launch of the Topol intercontinental ballistic missile was conducted in 1982

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© Ladislav Karpov/TASS

MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/. Thirty-five years ago, the RT-2PM (15Zh58) intercontinental ballistic missile of the RS-12M Topol road mobile complex was successfully launched for the first time at the 53rd research and testing range of the USSR Defense Ministry in Plesetsk on February 8, 1983.

Project’s history

A new-generation solid-propellant missile had been under development at the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology since 1975. This research institute specialized in mobile solid-propellant missiles: it was this firm that had earlier developed RT-2S Temp-2S and RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) missile systems.

The Soviet military believed that it would be difficult to spot a mobile missile system, which would, therefore, significantly reduce its vulnerability compared to silo-based missiles. The United States and its allies had no mobile ICBMs as they limited their effort only to developing MGM-31C Pershing II medium-range missile complexes.

Trials

The first test launch of the Topol intercontinental ballistic missile was conducted on October 27, 1982 from the Kapustin Yar practice range and it proved to be a failure.

After that, the development tests were transferred to the 53rd research and test range of the USSR Defense Ministry (Plesetsk) where the second and successful launch was conducted on February 8, 1983.

The first three launches were conducted from a silo. The fourth trial was held on August 10, 1983 when the Topol ICBM was test-launched from a self-propelled launcher.

Overall, 17 test launches of Topol ICBMs were held and only four of them failed.

Topol ICBMs enter service with Strategic Missile Force

On December 1, 1988, the Soviet government issued a resolution on accepting the Topol ICMB for service.

In 1991, the Soviet Army operated 288 Topol missile systems. After the disintegration of the USSR, three divisions armed with these ICBMs stayed on territory of Belarus and were withdrawn into Russia. In 1993, RT-2PM missile complexes that were in operation reached their maximum number of 369 units. Since 2006, Russia has been replacing Topols with new Topol-M mobile missile systems.

Over 120 test and combat training launches of the RT-2PM Topol missiles were held from 1982 and an overwhelming majority of them were successful.

In the West, the RT-2PM Topol ICBM was dubbed the SS-25 Sickle.

Modifications

The Topol-M is a solid-propellant missile of universal (silo and mobile) basing with a new control system, enhanced accuracy, larger payload, a new ABM-piercing system and other innovations.

The Topol-E is an experimental missile for conducting the trials of new types of ICBM armament.

Design

The RT-2PM is a three-stage solid-propellant ICBM with the sequential arrangement of its stages.

Each of the three stages uses a solid-propellant engine with a fixed nozzle. The first stage is furnished with gas jet and aerodynamic vanes. The ICBM is also equipped with a separate stage for the warhead delivery.

The launcher is mounted on a MAZ-7912/7917 auto chassis.

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