Russia to launch 5 ballistic missiles by year-end : Commander

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Moscow, Oct 26 (UNI) Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) will launch five inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) by the year end.

''By the end of this year, we will test-launch five missiles, including a RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto), a RS-12M (SS-25 Sickle), a missile interceptor and a heavy RS-20 (SS-18 Satan),'' SMF commander Gen Nikolai Solovtsov told RIA Novosti news agency today.

He said seven ICBM launches had been conducted so far in 2007 to test the performance of a new RS-24 missile with multiple warheads, extend the service life of RS-18 and RS-25 missiles and lift payloads into orbit.

Five regiments of an SMF division in the Saratov Region had been equipped with silo-based Topol-M (SS-27) systems and put on combat duty. A complete regiment of silo-based Topol-M comprises ten missiles.

The advanced Topol-M missile is considered by many experts as the best ICBM in the world at present.

''Therefore, Russia already possesses weapons that can penetrate any modern missile defenses,'' Gen Solovtsov said.

The deployment of silo-based Topol-M systems in the Saratov Region and road-mobile systems in the Ivanovo Region (central Russia) would be completed in 2010.

He said Russia can quickly resume the production of intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

''If a political decision to build such missiles is made, it is obvious that Russia can begin producing them, because the required production capacities are in place,'' he said.

He also said the development plans of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces Command take into account the deployment by the US of elements of a missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.

''Undoubtedly, Russia will take adequate measures -- the task is on the agenda of the strategic forces -- in order to avoid the erosion of Russia's strategic nuclear power following the deployment by the US of missile defence elements in Europe,'' Mr Solovtsov said.


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