Russia Tests Latest Topol-M ICBM

  • Date
  • Nov. 30, 2019
  • Author
  • Sri Rangan

On November 28, 2019, from the Kapustin Yar State Central Interspecific training ground in the Astrakhan Region, a combat crew of the Strategic Missile Forces launched the intercontinental ballistic missile of the Topol mobile ground missile system. Missile training warhead hit the mock target at the Sary-Shagan training ground (Republic of Kazakhstan) with a given accuracy. Objectives of the exercises were fulfilled.

While the official statement was opaque regarding the specifics of the missile that was tested, it is expected to be the Topol-M missile. The RT-2PM2 Topol-M is one of the most recent intercontinental ballistic missiles to be deployed by Russia, and the first to be developed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was developed from the RT-2PM Topol mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.

In its Russian designation РТ stands for "ракета твердотопливная", raketa tverdotoplivnaya ("solid fuel rocket"), while УТТХ – for "улучшенные тактико-технические характеристики," uluchshenniye taktiko-tekhnicheskie kharakteristiki ("improved tactical and technical characteristics"). "Topol" (тополь) in Russian means "white poplar". It is designed and produced exclusively by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, and built at the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant.

According to Russia the missile and its various versions, RS-24 Yars (SS-27 Mod 2), RS-26 Rubezh (another SS-27 version) and RSM-56 Bulava (SLBM version of SS-27) are designed to counter and evade current or planned United States missile defense system. It is claimed to be capable of making evasive maneuvers to avoid a kill by interceptors, and carries targeting countermeasures and decoys.

One of the Topol-M's most notable features is its short engine burn time following take-off, intended to minimize satellite detection of launches and thereby complicate both early warning and interception by missile defense systems during boost phase. The missile also has a relatively flat ballistic trajectory, complicating defense acquisition and interception.

According to The Washington Times, Russia has conducted a successful test of the evasive payload delivery system. The missile was launched on 1 November 2005 from the Kapustin Yar facility. The warhead changed course after separating from the launcher, making it difficult to predict a re-entry trajectory.

Sri Rangan
Analyst based in the Netherlands. Investor and Serial Entrepreneur in his second life.