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Russia draws up ambitious missile plan

Russian Army's Iskander-E high-precision theater-level missile system. Photo credit: Kolomna Engineering Design Bureau

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia has drawn up an ambitious short-term plan of launching 13 training missiles in 2009 and equipping the country's Armed Forces with new nuclear-capable missiles by 2020 in the long term that can overcome defensive measures like the controversial US missile shield.

Russia's Strategic Missile Force commander, Col Gen Nikolai Solovtsov was quoted in the media as saying that they had planned 13 training launches for 2009. However, the number could come down. In November, the commander had said that the forces would conduct at least 13 launches of ballistic missiles in 2009.

Col Gen Solovtsov said by 2015-2020, the Russian strategic rocket forces will have new complete missile systems with improved combat characteristics. “They will be capable of carrying out any tasks, including in conditions where an enemy uses anti-missile defence measures,” according to media reports.

Moscow has been upset by Washington's plans to put an anti-missile radar facility in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland, despite US assurances that the system was not directed against it.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have urged US president-elect Barack Obama to call off the plan that was mooted by the Bush administration.

The Russian commander said the country's rocket forces are developing and putting new missile systems on combat duty and perfecting their capabilities in line with current threats.

According to media reports, Russia is working to upgrade its Soviet-era missile forces and has repeatedly tested new missiles in recent months.

There are also reports that from December 2009, the Russian military will deploy its new RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile, designed to counter defence systems like the controversial US missile shield. The third successful test of the RS-24 was carried out on November 26. In 2008, the Strategic Missile Forces conducted seven launches of ballistic missiles and postponed two launches till next year.

"We are planning to carry out 13 launches in 2009: five test launches of new missiles, three launches to confirm the extension of missiles' service lives, and five launches of converted SS-18 Satan ICBMs under the Dnepr programme to orbit various satellites," RIA Novosti quotting Solovtsov said.

The total arsenal of Russia's SMF comprises 536 ICBMs, including 306 SS-25 Topol (Sickle) missiles and 54 SS-27 Topol-M (Stalin) missiles.

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