Strategic Weapons: Topol Replaces Topol

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March 31,2008: Russia has destroyed six Topol mobile ICBMs, as part of the 1991 START-1 disarmament treaty. The Topol (SS-25) was the first successful Russian solid fuel ICBM. It is comparable to the 1960s era U.S. Minuteman ICBMs. Solid fuel is tricky to manufacture, and after many early unsuccessful attempts to develop it, the Russians stuck with liquid fuel until the 1980s. They finally perfected their solid fuel technology, with the successful test launch of the 45 ton Topol in 1985. The 52 ton Topol-M (SS-27) [VIDEO] followed ten years later, and is replacing the older Topols. Both missiles have a range of 10,500 kilometers. The Topol-M is more reliable, especially compared to the mobile Topol, which often developed reliability problems when it was moved by truck or train, and then fired. The Topol-M also had reliability problems, but these appear to have been fixed. Topol-Ms cost $52 million each, which is said to be about what the original Topols cost.

The START-1 treaty expires in December, 2009, and requires Russia and the U.S. to have no more than 1,600 delivery vehicles for nukes, and no more than 6,000 nuclear warheads. Both nations have agreed to further reduce their warhead count to 2,000 or less.

 


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