Col. Gen Nikolai Solovtsov, the commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) recently laid out plans to test 14 intercontinental ballistic missiles within the next few months, according to a UPI report.
The military leader added that by the end of the year, the number of Topol-M mobile ICBMs -- NATO designation SS-27 Stalin -- in service with the SMF will have doubled.
Looking ahead, however, at a broader seven-year plan, the beefing up of the Stalin missiles is part of a strategy to convert its strategic missile arsenal into a smaller force that would be largely comprised of new weapons, according to Agence France-Presse.
As reported by Global Security Newswire (GSN), Solovstov described the leaner and meaner missile profile: “Plans for the development of the Russian strategic rocket forces through 2016 foresee a decrease in quantity and a transformation in quality at the same time.
“Rocket systems with an extended shelf life will account for roughly 20 percent, while new rocket systems for at least 80 percent of the forces,” he added.
Looking even further down the road, Solovtsov said in a previous press statement that the military by 2020 intended to replace its entire Cold War stockpile of nuclear-capable missiles with ICBMs that could defeat missile defense systems, according to GSN.
Despite the march to modernization, Russia plans to maintain its Voevoda ICBM -- the “world’s most powerful rocket” -- through 2019, Solovtsov said, according to Agence France-Presse.
The 21-year-old Voevoda ICBMs -- designated by NATO as the SS-18 Satan -- is believed to have a flight range of 6,800 miles, United Press International reported. It is reported to be deployed within 88 silos -- but will far down the road be replaced by a similar weapon.
Meanwhile, production of the Topol M mobile missile system has stopped, Solovtsov told reporters, stressing that whatever changes and tinkering goes on, Moscow has not diminished the importance it places on its strategic arsenal.
All told, announced the Russian general, Moscow would be inaugurating no fewer than six new missile systems with the SMF this year, including a replacement for the Topol-Ms.
“Six missile systems will enter service with the SMF in 2009,” Solovtsov stated, according to UPI.
“The nuclear status of the Russian Federation, as a historic reality, will be preserved in the foreseeable future, until nuclear weapons lose their deterrent role as a result of our scientific and technological process and differing international relations,” Solovtsov said -- apparently mindful of a potential new strategic arms-reduction agreement with the United States.
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