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Russia's Military to Wield 86 Yars, Topol-M Missile Firing Units Within Month

Russia's military is expected by the end of this month to possess 86 firing units for the nuclear-capable Topol-M and Yars ballistic missiles, Russian strategic missile forces Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakayev said on Saturday (see GSN, Dec. 16).

The strategic missile forces  "will have 86 Topol-M and Yars missile launchers by the year end," ITAR-Tass quoted the officer as saying (see GSN, Nov. 14).

"Modern armaments" now comprise one-quarter of the weapons overseen by the strategic missile forces, a portion that has increased in recent years, the official said.

"Parameters of the [strategic missile forces] will be further updated with the newest systems capable of penetration through missile defense," he said. Moscow has pledged to take steps to counter U.S.-NATO plans for a European missile shield, which it says might be aimed at countering Russia's nuclear forces, if the sides cannot reach accord on collaborating on the system.

"The second regiment in Teikovo will fully switch to Yars missiles in 2012, and the transfer will begin in Novosibirsk and Kozelsk. The latter will have silo-based Yars missiles. Another two missile units will be using Yars missiles in the future," Karakayev said.

"The sixth regiment in Tatishchevo is being armed with Topol-M missiles. Three Topol-M launchers will be put on duty there by the end of the year. When the regiment's rearming ends in 2012, the program of the [strategic missile forces'] equipment with the Topol-M systems will be complete," he said.

Missile firing units that can be moved on roads are among the most effective tools available for reducing the nuclear deterrent's vulnerability to potential attacks, Karakayev said.

"The Yars system carrying RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles is Russia's newest road-mobile missile launcher," the general said. "The system is capable of operative departure from base and stealth dispersal on vast territories."

No more than 4 percent of firing units overseen by the strategic missile forces are unsuited for rapid action on any given day, Karakayev said. "Although over 70 percent of missiles are past their warranty period, they have due reliability and technical aptness," he said.

"About 6,000 servicemen are on combat duty daily. The [strategic missile forces] operate six types of missile systems of the fourth and fifth generations. Three of them are based in silos, and three are road-mobile," the officer said (ITAR-Tass I, Dec. 20).

Russia's ability to move its transferable missile firing units is unaffected by a strategic arms control treaty with the United States, ITAR-Tass quoted Karakayev as saying (see GSN, Dec. 19).

"In contrast to START 1, the New START [treaty] does not limit the areas, in which road-mobile missile systems of the [strategic missile forces] may operate," he said. "The New START sets no limits to the modernization of existent missiles and the development of new weapons. The new missiles are being developed with due account of this treaty," he said.

The New START pact, which took effect in February, requires Russia and the United States to each reduce deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from a cap of 2,200 mandated by next year under an older treaty. It also limits the number of fielded strategic warhead delivery platforms to 700, with an additional 100 systems permitted in reserve. The treaty calls for the nations to regularly share quantities, siting and schematics of armament equipment and sites (ITAR-Tass II, Dec. 20).

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