Russia to Develop Heavy ICBM to Evade U.S. Missile Interceptors

Russia intends to design and manufacture a new heavy ICBM with the capacity to evade U.S. missile interceptors, RIA Novosti reported on Friday (see GSN, Sept. 6).

Russian strategic missile forces head Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakayev said a determination had been made to build the liquid-fueled, silo-based ICBM to provide Russia with an "enhanced capability to breach a hypothetical U.S. missile defense system."

The United States plans between now and 2020 to deploy increasingly advanced sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe as a proclaimed hedge against a potential ballistic missile attack from Iran. The Kremlin says it suspects that next-generation U.S. interceptors planned for Europe could have the ability to target its strategic nuclear forces. It has threatened to deploy Iskander missiles near NATO states and to take other steps if its concerns are not addressed.

Karakayev said Iran does not have the industrial capacity or the technical means to manufacture ballistic missiles that can reach Europe.

Moscow intends for the new 100-ton ICBM to take the place of the R-36M Voyevoda missile. The new long-range missile is needed as the military's solid-fueled strategic weapons might be vulnerable to interception by U.S. antimissile systems, Karakayev said.

The general said his command would conduct trial firings of 11 long-range ballistic missiles in 2012 (RIA Novosti, Dec. 16).

Separately, a Russian naval staff insider said there would be an additional trial this year of the submarine-launched Bulava ballistic missile, Interfax reported on Thursday (see GSN, Nov. 29).

"The preliminary information available to us confirms that a Bulava salvo test launch will be carried out from the Yuri Dolgoruky missile-carrying submarine within the period from Dec. 25 to Dec. 29 this year," the anonymous source said, adding that a "launch date will be set by a state commission at the beginning of next week."

Russian officials had earlier intended to hold off on additional Bulava testing until the year was over. "But the defense industry has created all of the conditions needed to conduct a Bulava salvo launch. It concerns this missile itself, its carrier and ground-based infrastructure," the source said.

In the upcoming test, two missiles would be fired from the Yuri Dolgoruky, with less than a second separating their launches, he said.

"The possibility of putting the Bulava missile into service in the Russian navy will be considered if the test launch is successful," the naval insider said.

The Bulava has performed successfully in three test firings in 2011 after a number of unsuccessful trials. The missile, designed to deliver as many as 10 separately targeted nuclear warheads a maximum of 5,000 miles, is intended to become a central component of Russia's nuclear deterrent (Interfax, Dec. 15).

December 16, 2011

Russia intends to design and manufacture a new heavy ICBM with the capacity to evade U.S. missile interceptors, RIA Novosti reported on Friday.