Modest prospects of strategic missile forces


On December 10 of 2006, the first regiment of absolutely new mobile ground missile systems Topol-M was put on combat duty in the 54th missile division of the Strategic Missile Forces (Teikovo, Ivanovo Region). In any case, it is hardly possible to call this a regiment fully because only three missile systems have been put on combat duty, although there should be ten regiments in a regiment of the Strategic Missile Forces according to authorized schedule. Despite this, adoption of mobile ground missile systems is a remarkable event for post-Soviet Russia. After breakup of the USSR the Strategic Missile Forces have been permanently reduced. Only since 1997 the Strategic Missile Forces started receiving stationary missile systems Topol-M but only in limited quantities. According to official data of the Command of the Strategic Missile Forces, now the strike missile group of Russia includes about 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles, less than 10% of them being new. According to Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces Nikolai Solovtsov, five regiments have been rearmed with silo-based Topol-M missiles in the Tatishchevskoe formation and the overall quantity of missiles being on combat duty has been increased to 44. To this quantity we need to add the three mobile systems put on combat duty in Teikovo in December.

Meanwhile, Solovtsov has emphasized frequently that these are the mobile ground missile systems that constitute the backbone of survivability of the Strategic Missile Forces. The information and public relations service of the Strategic Missile Forces, reports that at present silo-based systems account for about 45% of the overall quantity of missile launchers of the Strategic Missile Forces but according to the quantity of combat blocks they account for almost 85% of the potential of the existing strike group of the Strategic Missile Forces. This means that Topol accounts for less than one-sixth of the nuclear potential of the Strategic Missiles Forces. This is understandable because so far Topol missiles are of monoblock type. Only a few years later Topol-M missiles will be fitted out with MIRV warheads in some divisions being similar to the warhead developed for shipborne missile system Bulava.

Solovtsov says that in the future instead of the five types of missiles existing now the Strategic Missile Forces will have only one type, that is intercontinental ballistic missile Topol-M in stationary and mobile modifications.

This way or the other, let us look how many Topol-M missiles Russia plans to have in the future. According to official information, about 90% of missile systems being currently on combat duty will be discarded by 2016. The missile systems RS-12M Topol, RS-18 Stilet and RS-20 Voevoda (Satan according to Western classification) whose service life has expired will be discarded from the Strategic Missile Forces.

Lieutenant General Vitaly Linnik, Deputy Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, reports that about 70 of the 300 mobile launchers will remain on combat duty in 2010. These will be mostly old Topol mobile ground missile system with extended service life and new Topol-M. Whereas there are nine missile divisions with mobile missile systems on combat duty in the Strategic Missile Forces, by 2016 there will be only three such divisions left.

According to the state armament program, between 2007 and 2015 the Strategic Missile Forces will receive 69 launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles Topol-M in silo-based and mobile modifications. If the already existing 47 launchers of Topol-M are added the overall quantity of missile systems in Russia will amount only to 116 then being almost 80% smaller than it is now. Of course, Russian authorities plan to re-distribute the potential of the strategic nuclear forces for submarines and aviation. However, Bulava missile system was not created yet. Two unsuccessful test launches of this missile from submerged position were registered in 2006. In the near future the army plans to buy only three new Tu-160 airplanes. This is not much too. Thus, there is a real threat of decrease in efficiency of the nuclear missile potential of Russia now. It is unknown which measures authorities of the country plan to take because of this. So far, authorities count on the presumption that Topol-M does not have counterparts in the world. Incidentally, this is a light missile that is in a monoblock configuration so far and Americans are not afraid of it. At least, they do not afraid of it as much as they have been and are afraid of RS-20 Satan.