Strategic Weapons: Russia Rolls a Seven

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February23, 2007: Russia will put seven Topol-M (SS-27) ICBMs into service this year, making the total on duty so far 55. Four of the new ones will operate from underground silos, while three will operate from special train cars, and be constantly moved around on the Russian railroad network.

Some of the older Topol (SS-25) missiles are already serving in the mobile mode. The Topol-M is an upgraded Topol. Both are comparable to the American Minuteman III, and both carry only one warhead, although they could carry as many as six warheads per missile. The 45 ton SS-25 entered service in 1985, and was so successful (meaning reliable, partly because it use solid fuel), that work began on an upgrade. This became the 52 ton Topol-M. All other Russian ICBMs suffered reliability problems and were more expensive to maintain, largely because of liquid fuel rocket engines and cranky electronics.

 


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