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Russia excludes rail-mobile ICBM system from armament, focuses on Sarmat missile

Russia will be focusing on developing Sarmat and Rubezh intercontinental ballistic missiles
RS-24 Yars ballistic missile systems  Vladimir Smirnov/TASS
RS-24 Yars ballistic missile systems
© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. The work on the Barguzin rail-mobile ballistic missile system has been excluded from Russia’s new state armament plan for 2018-2027 due to lack of financing, a source in the Russian defense ministry told TASS on Wednesday.

Instead, Russia has decided to focus on developing Sarmat and Rubezh intercontinental ballistic missiles, the source said.

As the Russian daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported earlier, the issue of developing new-generation missile-carrying trains has been closed at least for the near future.

As the source told TASS, the Barguzin project had been put on hold since the autumn of last year and the pop-up tests of the Yars missile from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in north Russia were the last work carried out under this program.

"The rail-mobile ICBM system will also be excluded from the new state armament program through 2027 over a shortage of financing: there are no sufficient funds to finance all missile programs for Russia’s Strategic Missile Force and Russia has sacrificed the Barguzin project for the time being for the sake of the Sarmat and the RS-26 Rubezh ICBMs included in the new state program," the source said.

Another source in the defense industry told TASS in May 2016 that the design documentation for the Barguzin project was ready and work had started to create the system’s individual elements. It was planned at that time that a new 13th missile division comprising five regiments armed with Barguzin rail-mobile ICBM complexes would become operational in Russia’s Strategic Missile Force in the early 2020s.

Barguzin, Sarmat and Rubezh ICBMs

The development of the Barguzin rail-mobile ballistic missile complex began in 2013 on instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Each complex was expected to comprise six launchers of Yars solid propellant missiles each containing four independently targetable warheads. The Yars ICBM weighs 50 tonnes and with its length of 22.5 meters it easily fits into a 24-meter rail car designed to carry 60 tonnes of cargoes. One such train was equaled to a regiment and a total of five such regiments consolidated into a division were planned to be operational.

Simultaneously, work began to develop the Sarmat silo-based heavy liquid propellant intercontinental ballistic missile intended to replace the operational R-36M2 Voyevoda missile. Its payload will reach 10 tonnes compared to 8.75 tonnes carried by its predecessor. As Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said earlier, the first pop-up tests of the Sarmat missile should begin until the end of 2017.

According to the deputy defense minister, this missile will be so powerful that it will be able to fly towards its targets both through the North and South Poles and will therefore have a practically global firing range.

At about that time, work was launched to develop the RS-26 Rubezh mobile ground-based missile platform derived from the RS-24 Yars project with new targetable warheads for breaking through anti-missile defense.

In experts’ estimates, the system has a maximum range of 12,000 km but can be launched against targets at a range of 2,000-6,000 km (which, as the United States claims, violates the INF Treaty). The missile was accepted for service in late 2016.