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Russia test fires RS-18 ICBM from Baikonur

Over 100 silo-based Stilettos are currently in service with the SMF. RIA Novosti photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) has successfully launched a Stiletto Inter Continental Ballistic Missile on Wednesday, the SMF said. The RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

“The launch confirmed the decision to extend the service life of one of our most reliable missile complexes,” the SMF said in a statement quoted in RIA Novosti. Stiletto ICBMs, operational for past 29 years, will remain on combat duty beyond 2010, thanks to the successful test. Stiletto missile has a combat range of over 9,600 km.

Though the test was termed part of the regular SMF exercise to test the performance of missiles, it came at a time when the US-Russian relation over the Ballistic Missile Defence and Georgia war has worsened to a new low in the post-Cold War era.

RIA Novosti said over the past five years Russia conducted 31 test launches of RS-12M (SS-25 Sickle), R-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) and RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) ICBMs and will double the number of test launches after 2009. Russia extended the service life of the Stiletto missile to 31 years following a successful test launch in October 2007.

Over 100 silo-based Stilettos are currently in service with the SMF, with each missile carrying six 550-kiloton warheads, RIA Novosti said.

According to the report, the Stilettos would be gradually replaced by new RS-24 ICBMs, equipped with MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) warheads—an ICBM that can carry multiple warheads in a single missile. The report noted, that the new missile is ‘characterised by its high missile-defence penetration capability.’

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