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Russian Strategic Missile Force armed with about 400 ballistic missiles — Defense Ministry

Russia’s strategic missile system Sarmat will go operational 2019-2020
A ballistic missile silo (archive)  AP Photo
A ballistic missile silo (archive)
© AP Photo

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. Russia’s Strategic Missile Force operates about 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles, which makes up over 60% of the Russian nuclear triad’s warheads and carriers, Strategic Missile Force Commander Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev said on Thursday.

"At present, the Strategic Missile Force grouping comprises about 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads of various categories of their capacity," the commander said.

Therefore, the Russian Strategic Missile Force concentrates over 60% of strategic weapons and warheads of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. In addition to the Strategic Missile Force, Russia’s nuclear triad includes seaborne strategic forces and strategic aviation, the commander said.

According to the commander, "99% of launchers in the Strategic Missile Force grouping are kept in a combat-ready state."

As the commander said, the funds allocated under the state armament program through 2020 allow maintaining the pace of troops’ rearmament.

"The emphasis in developing the Strategic Missile Force’s perspective strike grouping will be made on its qualitative transformation and a considerable increase in the share of modern missile systems," the commander said.

Over the same period, the systems of troops’ and weapons’ combat control will be qualitatively improved, he added.

"In the final account, the Strategic Missile Force will have a balanced structure and operate an optimal number of missiles designated to solve the diverse tasks of ensuring nuclear containment and Russia’s security," the commander said.

Russia’s strategic missile system Sarmat will go operational in 2019-2020.

"Alongside the gradual withdrawal of the Voyevoda missile from service the strategic missile system Sarmat will be authorized for service and go operational. The Sarmat is a silo-based liquid propellant heavy missile. The estimated date when it may enter duty is 2019-2020," Karakayev said, when asked when the Sarmat might take Voyevoda’s place.

Karakayev said the Voyevoda’s reliability parameters after 28 years in service remained stable.

"The decisions made by now will keep the Voyevoda complex till 2022," he added.

Earlier reports said the Sarmat would be put on duty at the end of 2018.

The Sarmat is a heavy inter-continental ballistic missile carrying a maximum payload of ten tonnes, in contrast to its predecessor’s 8.75-tonne payload. It is expected to replace the R-36M2 missile (Voyevoda), which, according to open sources, was authorized for service in 1988.

The Sarmat’s prototype was already available in the autumn of 2015, but no pop-up tests have been made so far. A source in the defense-industrial complex at the Plesetsk space site was not ready yet, adding that the first tests were due at the end of 2016.

Yars missiles 

Russia’s Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles are capable of dodging space-based antimissile interceptors, Karakayev said.

"The missile of the Yars system incorporates the options of an antimissile trajectory maneuver to dodge space-based missile shield interceptors. Of course, this system, as it enters into service, considering the development of missile shield complexes and the system’s upgraded versions, will in a perspective strengthen the combat capabilities of the Strategic Missile Force strike grouping to breach missile defense systems and strengthen the nuclear containment potential of the Russian strategic nuclear forces," the commander said.

The Yars missile system has larger capabilities for the use of the positioning area compared to the Topol ICBMs, which it is designated to replace, the commander said.

"The Yars design specifics allow for launches from the sites, on which the Topol could assume combat duty only after special engineering re-equipment. Improvements have been made to the characteristics of communications means and the chassis and the missile itself has become more powerful and actually invulnerable to the enemy’s existing missile shield systems. The Yars missile warhead has also changed qualitatively, the commander said.

Russia missile forces to conduct 10 ballistic launches in 2017.

"Next year there will be more than ten launches, mostly expected to test future missile systems and prolong the operation of the current ones. Also, three will be some combat test launches," he said.

Karakayev recalled that in 2016 the Strategic Missile Force carried out six missile launches - four of new missile systems, one for the purpose of prolonging the operation of existing missiles and one combat training launch.

The SMF commander said that Russia would notify the United States of all of its missile launches no less than 24 hours in advance under the Soviet-US treaty of 1988 and within the framework of the current strategic arms reduction treaty.

"The notification states the planned launch dates, the site and the area where the warheads are expected to fall," he said.

Karakayev told the media that 160 weapon samples have been tested at the Kapustin Yar test site this year, twice the number tested last year.

"In 2017 the experimental facilities will finish to be upgraded. This will allow for increasing the intensity of launches and expand the range of tests," he said.